Thanks so much to Barbara Bates for coming and sharing her movie experience with us!! <3
In the mid-80s I received a head injury that left me totally blind. After a period of necessary rehab, I regained a semi-normal life. Last February I had my first novel published, AsterIce by Eternal Press. But, being blind has caused all sorts of problems, that you, the non-handicapped take for granted. One of these is the ability to watch movies and TV. Here’s some information you may find interesting. – Barbara Bates
Movies and DVS
Or Now the blind can watch movies, too
b. L. Bates
You’re sitting in a movie theater with a friend, and you notice two women come in using long, white canes. Checking each aisle with their canes, they choose a row and sit near the aisle.
How can they watch the movie? They’re blind. The thought lodges in your head and won’t go away.
Just before the movie starts, they put on headsets and face the screen.
Leaving the movie, you exit behind them. They talk about the movie and mention a couple of things you missed. How is this possible?
DVS (Descriptive Video Services) is the answer. Like “Closed caption” for the deaf, DVS describes to the person wearing the headset, some of the items on the screen. Basic descriptions are given of the characters and their gestures, the settings, and other information deemed necessary for those with visual challenges to enjoy the movie. In a murder mystery, the necessary clues will be given to solve the mystery, but they will not be differentiated from other pieces of information given.
This information is added either at the beginning of a scene, during breaks in conversation, or when only music or sound effects are present. While not a lot of detail is given, enough is spoken to form a “picture” in the viewer’s mind of the characters, the place the action is happening, and certain props.
Example: Movie scene
The heroine, Maggie, walks to the top of a grand staircase, then stands there looking for a particular person.
DVS (spoken while Maggie stands at the top of the staircase):
Maggie strides across the carpeted hall to stand at the top of the grand staircase. Dressed in a maroon, floor-length gown, form-fitting and slit to the knee on the right side. She searches for Brad, unaware she’s become the center of attention.
DVS is added to a movie after it’s made and ready to be shipped out. Professional narrators follow detailed scripts when adding these segments. WGBH in Boston MA pioneered this service and now there are other locations across the nation able to add DVS to movies and TV.
DVDs with DVS:
Those with visual challenges can buy DVDs from some providers with DVS included. Like the “normal” DVDs bought in stores, some movies have DVS added and are available for purchase. They do cost a bit more than regular DVDs.
To play these at home you need a TV set with a two channel audio system. The regular audio plays over one and the added DVS over the other.
In addition, some TV programs can be “seen” in DVS. Though PBS is the leader in the amount of programs available with DVS added, other stations do have some programs using DVS.
DVS in Libraries:
Many libraries loaning out audio books that are members of the NLS (National Library Service) have DVDs with DVS available for loan. The normal loan time is two weeks. You need to be a member of these libraries to borrow either the books or the DVDs.
Is it a perfect solution? Not by a long short, but it’s a start. In the future there may be the option (for home viewers, anyway) to stop the film and move a cursor around to have it describe the scene. A connection to a keyboard might allow the viewer to ask questions at certain parts of the movie. Like: What are the people in the background wearing? Or, What kind of dog is barking in the other room?
Far fetched? Not so long ago, the Internet was a “pie in the sky” idea of a small group of scientists and engineers. Look how far we’ve come.
Want to know more about DVS? Check out the following links:
or put “descriptive video services” into your favorite browser.
I’m not a consistent blogger, but I can be reached at:
My first novel, AsterIce can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Audible by searching for AsterIce.