Tag Archives: AMI

Descriptive Video Works Makes Case For DV At CRTC Hearings

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This past week, Diane Johnson, CEO and President of Descriptive Video Works, took part in the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission – the administrative tribunal that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications) hearings discussing the future of Canadian television. Dubbed Let’s Talk TV the hearings gave Diane, who was joined by Shawn Marsolais, founder of Blind Beginnings, the chance to make the case regarding the importance of described television.

Following a submission process, Diane and Shawn were among the lucky few to be invited to the discussions pertaining to audio description (other speakers included AMI – Accessible Media Inc.).  “Over and over again I am asked why are not more programs described,” Diane said prior to Let’s Talk TV. “I don’t understand why the current mandate is only four hours a week for described video on TV, and 100% for closed captioning. I don’t understand why the blind and partially sighted are denied equal access to information and entertainment”.

During the allotted ten minute session, Diane gave the CRTC a background of her experiences with Descriptive Video Works and the kind of services the company offers, many of which are practices that we have pioneered such as Live Video Description. Also addressed were emerging worldwide trends that show availability of described video increasing, blind audiences becoming harder to ignore and how Canada has the opportunity to be a leader in the field. As a founding member of the Canadian Described Video Broadcast Committee, Diane expressed the importance of Best Practices and how these standards only have value if everyone follows them.

Shawn said to the members of the CRTC panel, “Please imagine not being able to see. We don’t know what our peers are wearing or doing leaving us at a disadvantage socially. It is difficult to make friends when can’t talk about sports, TV programs, fashion, or when you miss the action or joke because it was something visual. DV fills in these gaps”. She went on to say, “Being able to talk knowledgeably with sighted people about these things demonstrates that I am not that different from them, I just can’t see”.

Diane capped off their time speaking with the CRTC by saying, “Both entertainment and information are received via television, lack of access is socially isolating. The blind and partially sighted community deserves the same access to television as enjoyed by all viewers. Descriptive video directly contributes to a higher quality of life. We respectfully request a mandate that requires 100% described video on Canadian television programming”.

Diane and Shawn then answered questions from Stephen Simpson, CRTC Commissioner, British Columbia and Yukon who was particularly interested in Live DV and the associated costs of DV and how these costs may be reduced for broadcasters.

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To watch Diane and Shawn’s full presentation to the CRTC as well as how they responded to Commissioner Simpson’s questions, CLICK HERE and jump ahead to 135:00.

It is our hope that the CRTC listens to not just Diane and Shawn’s feedback, but the feedback from the entire blind and partially sighted community across the country, a group of one million plus Canadians that is expected to increase significantly over the coming years as the baby boomers retire. The blind community is tired of being mostly ignored – a fact supported by a complete lack of media coverage during the video description portion of the CRTC hearings. Though Let’s Talk TV is now over, we can all do our part to continue pushing for increased DV. Let’s not let the importance of equality for all be overshadowed by focus on BDUs (Broadcasting Distribution Undertakings), pick ‘n pay contracts and Netflix. Let’s continue to talk TV and ensure that nobody is left out of the discussion.

For a full breakdown of the topics covered by the Let’s Talk TV CRTC hearings, CLICK HERE – Sections 20 and 21 pertain to Described Video and Media Accessibility.

We also encourage you to check out the amazing work being done in the community by Shawn and her team at Blind Beginnings.

 

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Filed under Industry News, Uncategorized, Vision Impairment

ITU Focus Group on Audio Visual Media Accessibility

Last week Descriptive Video Works President and CEO, Diane Johnson, attended the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Focus Group on Audio Visual Media Accessibility which was held in Toronto, Canada.

ITU is the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technology and is committed to connecting  all the world’s people wherever they live and whatever their means. Conferences and focus groups are held all around the world throughout the year.

As an industry leader in Canada it was important that Descriptive Video Works attend the conference in Toronto especially in regards to sharing with the rest of the world our experience in describing Live Television broadcasts. We are extremely proud to be the first company in the world to offer the service and the only company offering training for news anchors and reporters that provides guidance in how to make their content more accessible. The conference provided a wonderful opportunity for Descriptive Video Works to stress the importance of, as Diane said, “thinking outside of the regular Described Video TV box”.

“The conference was a great opportunity for us to share with international attendees our descriptive video guidelines that we have developed over the last decade in conjunction with the visually impaired audience in Canada. It is so important to ensure that we are always meeting the needs of the end user. These guidelines, together with the high level of skill and craft that we demand from all of our writers and narrators are what makes Descriptive Video Works stand out in a rapidly growing market”.

Diane also stressed the importance of maintaining high quality described video, “Poor description that misses the mark not only alienates the audience already tuned in but makes it very difficult to attract a new audience. Another challenging aspect in growing the service in all countries around the world is how to get governments to take notice and assist in getting the word out to the blind and vision impaired organizations and communities”.

Highlighting this need to grow awareness for descriptive video services are the statistics from a recent awareness campaign launched in the United Kingdom. Prior to the campaign, only 37% of the general public and 43% of the visually impaired had knowledge of audio description services compared to 60% of the general public and 72% of the visually impaired following completion of the public awareness campaign.

The ITU conferences around the world are important in developing future standard guidelines and best practices for audio description services on an international level. “One example of how we are working together in Canada, are the listings that AMI (Accessible Media Inc.) have put together of all programming on all stations that is described. Instead of looking at it as competition, they see the value of sharing this valuable listing service”.

“The ITU conferences are a great way to get people around the world with the same goals to share their knowledge, their challenges and their aspirations regarding where we can all take descriptive video in the future. Though it was felt by the entire group that we are just at the beginning stages, it is clear that we are sure to see huge growth in audio description in the next few years with levels approaching the current reach of Closed Captioning services. This underlines the importance of continued cooperation, sharing of ideas, increased awareness and the maintaining of high quality DV”.

Descriptive Video Works will continue to be “thinking outside of the DV box” as we take the next steps into what is an incredibly exciting time in the audio description world!

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Descriptive Video Works goes North…

…Way, way North in fact!

We are proud to announce that over the coming months our team will be busy providing descriptive video for the classic Canadian television series, North of 60.

Set in the North-West Territories in the small fictional town of Lynx River, North of 60 follows the trials and tribulations of the town’s mostly First Nation residents. Winner of multiple Gemini Awards and syndicated all around the world, the show often dealt with powerful and controversial themes such as alcoholism, poverty, land claims and the fight for cultural preservation.

North of 60 aired from 1992 to 1998 and was followed by a number of made for television movies. Starring in the series were Tina Keeper as RCMP officer Michelle Kenidi, Tom Jackson as Peter Kenidi and the late Gordon Tootoosis who played the bootlegger Albert Golo.

Episodes of North of 60 begin airing on AMI beginning September 12 from Monday to Friday at 3pm Eastern. For further programming information on this and other shows with audio description, check out AMI’s Program Schedule.

With a total of 90 produced episodes of North of 60 the team at Descriptive Video Works is sure to become so familiar with Lynx River it will feel like our second home!

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Filed under Described Shows, Industry News