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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Browse By Topic: Video Description

AFB Staff Members Report Back on Three Different Approaches to Experiencing the Solar Eclipse

Yesterday, AFB staff experienced the solar eclipse with a variety of high- and low-tech approaches. Associate Director of Web Services Crista Earl used the new Eclipse Soundscapes App created by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium. AFB Press Executive Editor Alina Vayntrub went old-school, using a colander to cast shadows of the eclipse against a white piece of


From Helen Keller to Netflix: Making Popular Culture Accessible

Helen in her dressing room in a vaudeville theatre, circa 1920 On June 15, the American Foundation for the Blind will be honoring Netflix with a


Standing Ovation for Netflix on its Audio Description Announcement

Big news from Netflix this week: the internet television network announced that it is adding audio description to its platform as a setting. This is huge news for those of us with vision loss. When I read and started talking to people about this announcement, I literally got chills. We all have our outlets for entertainment, relaxation, and even stress relief. Netflix is one of mine; it’s something I truly enjoy. I view it via my Apple TV or my iPhone. And up until today, unless my wife or a friend fills me in on what’s happening on the screen, I end up missing facial expressions,


An Accessible HTML5 Video Player from the American Foundation for the Blind

var height = 390; var width = 640; videoId = "T1shAMtMj5w"; //en - english, es - spanish var lang = "en"; var testEl = document.createElement("video"), bmpeg4, bh264, bogg, bwebm; var utube = ""; var mp4 = ""; var ogg = ""; var webm = ""; var track = ""; if (testEl.canPlayType) { // Check for MPEG-4 support bmpeg4 = "" !== testEl.canPlayType('video/mp4; codecs="avc1.42E01E,


Comcast Announces New Talking Guide for Access to Television

Comcast has just announced a solution to a huge television-watching problem. What is the problem? Imagine if there were a way to turn on the description (the special feature to narrate the visual elements of a show for people who are blind or visually impaired) on your favorite shows! Imagine being able to check your television to find out what is on right now, or up next, the name of the show, the channel the show is on, or the channel the TV is tuned to. (If you are wondering what "description" could be, check out this overview of audio description.) Back in the olden days, I bought a device at Radio Shack that had, among other features, a button that would


Thoughts on “Anchorman 2,” Its Portrayal of Blindness, and Seeing It with Description

Last weekend, my wife and I went to go see Anchorman 2. We love going to the movies, and I love the experience even more now that we have a local theatre that provides video description (hat-tip to Cinemark. I hope the other theaters in my area follow their example). I was pretty excited, because I loved the first Anchorman. First, a little background: It is an outrageous and inappropriate comedy that is not meant for children. Will Ferrell plays Ron Burgandy, an anchorman who leads a team of newscasters from a San Diego television


We Want Your Opinion: Take AFB’s Described TV Survey

Since July 1, 2012, America's leading broadcast and cable television channels have each been required by law to provide at least 50 hours of primetime or children's programming with video description in every calendar quarter, approximately four hours per week per channel. Video description (or simply “description”) is the narration of on-screen visual elements and actions spoken during natural pauses in program dialogue. Please take a couple moments and participate in AFB's Described TV Survey, and


IBM Research Raises the Bar on Accessibility

I consider myself lucky to attend a number of conferences specific to blindness, visual impairment, and technology. Well, at the 2013 AFB Leadership Conference, IBM Research just raised the bar for accessibility in my eyes. The innovative work they're doing to create accessibility options for educational videos got me out of my seat. I feel like I am now an IBM Research groupie. The work that Chieko Asakawa, Hiro Takagi, and Peter Fay presented on during the preconference and general conference is making video description and captioning for video content a realistic option for large


All Rights Preserved? How Copyright Law Can Leave People Who Are Blind Left Out

Did you know that since January 1, you can get in serious legal trouble for unlocking your cell phone? That is, the process of liberating your phone from the specific mobile carrier, such as Verizon or AT&T, to which your phone is likely linked right out of the box? Before, you had the freedom to unlock your phone without being subject to the severe penalties of the draconian Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). So what happened on January 1? Well, the DMCA permits the Librarian of Congress to exempt from liability behavior that would otherwise run afoul of the DMCA. The Librarian of Congress had been recognizing the right of cell


Good News: Finding Described TV Just Got Much Easier

Wondering what's on TV with video description? Finding out just got much easier. Today, AFB launched Described TV Listings, a new, web-based search tool that helps people with vision loss quickly find described TV programming in their area. For those unfamiliar with video description, it's a verbal description of the action and visual elements of a TV show. It helps people who are blind or visually impaired more easily follow what's happening on the screen. How AFB’s Described TV Listings Work: Visit AFB.org/TV Select “Described TV Listings” Enter your zip code, cable


Advocacy Request: Tell the FCC No Waivers For TV Industry Groups

Hurricane Sandy sent us a potent reminder of the need to ensure that information about emergencies is available to people with vision loss. Television has become the most common way to distribute information about weather or other emergencies, including notices regarding evacuation. Unfortunately, people who are blind or visually impaired are unable to read the scrolling information that often appears on television screens during an emergency, so they do not have efficient access to information about closures, evacuations or other pertinent local emergency information. As we prepare for winter weather, we again


Cinemark Announces Greater Movie Theater Accessibility

Last week, Cinemark Holdings, Inc., one of the world's largest motion picture exhibitors, announced it is providing an audio description option for people who are blind or have visual impairments in all of its first-run theaters. Cinemark is installing audio description systems on a rolling basis across its circuit in conjunction with the chain's conversion to an all-digital format. Installation is already underway, and all of Cinemark's theaters in California already have audio description capability. Cinemark will be able to offer audio description at all of its first-run theaters by


Watching TV Blind: A Love-Hate Relationship

I have a longstanding love-hate relationship with television. And, for 20 years now, video description has hung like a shadow over this relationship. I grew up on the great classic comedies of the 1970s: "All in the Family," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and "M.A.S.H." I spent far too many summer vacation hours lazily watching programs from "Love Boat" to gameshows. I later adopted sitcoms like "Cheers" and "The Cosby Show," along with a sprinkling of a few medical and legal dramas. In other words, I was a pretty typical American TV watcher. Yet, there was always a disappointing aspect to TV programs (okay, there are