I closed my eyes as the movie began, listening for clues about what was being shown. There were none. Throughout the first half of the movie, someone that could not see the pictures, had no idea the lion cub was born. The infamous scene of the baboon holding the sweet innocent lion cub with eyes wide, looking out from top the pointed rock overlooking kneeling zebras, hippopotamuses and more never happened for my daughter.
What is the rest of the movie without this unforgettable scene? Well to Madilyn it seemed to only be a few funny voices and familiar songs. She sat through it but could not keep up with the story since she could not see the pictures. Unless a doctor somewhere, someday successfully performs eye transplants including the optic nerve, she will never see it.
But how can I ensure she still has the opportunity to enjoy it as much as I did as a kid? Through described audio!
So what is described audio? Well, WGBH describes it as a way to "make television programs, feature films, DVDs, museum exhibits, theme park attractions and other visual media accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired by providing descriptive narration of key visual elements. Key visual elements include actions, costumes, gestures and scene changes which, when described, engage a viewer who is blind or visually impaired with the story." Read more on their website at http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/mag/services/description/.
If you're looking for audio description on DVDs, locate the audio options listed on the back of the package. Look for the line "audio described track" or "DVS". Not all movies have this feature, but many do, especially new Bluray discs. WGBH also lists movies that do and some with a link to buy online. http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/mag/dvsondvd.html
If your local theater does not offer DVS, as ours does not at this time, you can petition for them to install it through Mopix. Find out more about advocating here http://ncam.wgbh.org/mopix/. We've included our short and sweet intro email to our local theater (Dickinson Theatre chain) for your reference. You're welcome to copy and paste, then fill in with your information to send to your local theater as well! Happy Listening!
Dear [name of theater],
My family and I frequently attend your theater to see all the latest movies, however my [daughter Madilyn, age 6], is completely blind and is unable to get the full experience at your facility. Could you please install the MoPix DVS system to enable blind movie goers to enjoy your theater as much as my husband and I do. We would be more than happy to help raise awareness of the cause and even raise funds to get the technology installed in our town.
I would love to talk more about the possibility with you. You can also check out WGBH MoPix online at http://ncam.wgbh.org/mopix/
to learn more about it, including costs, etc. Thank you for your kind consideration.
You can also look for this logo: