This month The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the folks better known for The Oscars, launched a new documentary webseries, Academy Originals, highlighting and celebrating various aspects of the movies and the movie making process. The first three short films in the series premiered last week and one of them is of particular interest all of us here at Descriptive Video Works as it focuses on something near and dear to us.
Here’s the film, it’s well worth your time checking it out.
Not Much To See – How The Blind Enjoy Movies does a great job of capturing what makes described video such an important service as well as what it means to the blind to be able to enjoy something most of us take for granted. Every single one of us has a treasured memory of sitting in a darkened movie theater and delighting as larger than life images flickered before our eyes, inspiring, informing, entertaining and in many cases transporting us to far off places beyond our imagination. There are some who dismiss the need for greater accessibility in media (be it described video for the blind or closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing) as being a needless service that only caters to a minority. However, there are more than 20 million people affected by serious vision loss in the United States alone. According to the World Health Organization, in 2013 there were 39 million people worldwide who were legally blind and 246 million with significant low vision. That’s 285 million people around the world who cannot experience the magic of the movies.
During our many years providing descriptive video we have made more than 800 movies accessible to the blind. Here are just a FEW of those movies:
A Fish Called Wanda, Analyze This, Before Sunrise, Brazil, The Bridges Of Madison County, Castaway, Catch Me If You Can, Crimes And Misdemeanors, Die Hard, Do The Right Thing, Father Of The Bride, Fight Club, Forrest Gump, The Fugitive, Hard Days Night, JFK, Kramer vs Kramer, Leaving Las Vegas, Mississippi Burning, My Beautiful Laundrette, Rebel Without A Cause, Roxanne, Something About Mary, Speed, Stand By Me, The Color Purple, The French Connection, The Full Monty, The Thing, The Client, Twelve Angry Men, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, White Christmas, X-Men, Zulu…
…and many, many more!
All of these movies are generally regarded as classics in their genre and it has been both a delight and an extremely rewarding challenge for us to be able to bring these films to life for those with low vision. The power of the image, especially the moving image, has left an indelible mark on our culture over the past 100 years and nobody should be denied access to it especially when as a society we have the means to ensure that nobody is excluded. Through quality writing, voice recording and audio mixing we remain committed to providing the very best audio description in the business. Shockingly, we still encounter people on a daily basis who are completely unaware of video description. Their reaction is much like what Melissa Hudson of blindgirl.net says in Not Much To See – “Blind people don’t go to the movies!” As such, we also remain committed to spreading the word concerning the importance of descriptive video. We encourage you to do the same. Share, Like, Retweet, etc. Inform, illuminate and help us make a difference.
It is our hope that the day will come when all movies and television includes described video as standard. We applaud the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for launching their new online series with an episode that highlights described video services and its importance to the blind. The magic of the movies will continue to captivate the world, lets all do what we can to ensure that nobody is left out from experiencing that magic.
You can check out the other Academy Originals webseries episodes via their youtube channel here. Future episodes will be featuring Academy members such as writer-director Paul Haggis, producer Kathleen Kennedy and filmmaker Ava Duvernay.