Audio Described TV Programs Article
Video description is audio-narrated descriptions of a television program’s key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program’s dialogue. Video description makes TV programming more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. On August 25, 2011, the FCC adopted rules to implement the video description provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). These rules are effective as of July 1, 2012.
Availability of Video Description
FCC rules require local TV station affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC located in the top 25 TV markets (see list below) to provide 50 hours per calendar quarter (about 4 hours per week) of video-described prime time and/or children’s programming.
• Local TV stations in markets smaller than the top 25 also may provide video description. Check with your local TV stations.
• Many Public Broadcasting System (PBS) stations also provide video description on a number of programs. Check with your local PBS station.
• The requirement to provide video description is extended to local TV station affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC located in the top 60 television markets beginning July 1, 2015.
The top 5 non-broadcast networks – Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, TBS, TNT, and USA – must provide 50 hours per calendar quarter (about 4 hours per week) of video-described prime time and/or children’s programming.
• Subscription TV systems (offered over cable, satellite or the telephone network) with 50,000 or more subscribers must carry video description.
• Subscription TV systems with fewer than 50,000 subscribers also may provide video description. Check with your subscription TV provider.
Currently, the following list of programs are anticipated to be aired with Video Description on July 1,2012. 2
• ABC: Last Man Standing, The Middle, Suburgatory, Modern Family, Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—— in Apt. 23. ABC will most likely add new sitcom The Neighbors and new drama Nashville in the fall.
• CBS: CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, plus movies and miniseries
• Fox: The Simpsons, Bones, The following, Glee
• NBC: The Betty White reality show Off Their Rockers, drama Grimm, SVU, Chicago Fire and the summer series Saving Hope. Described sitcoms include The Office, Up All Night and Parks and Recreation
• Disney: Jessie, A.N.T. Farm and the animated Phineas and Ferb
• Nickelodean: Dora the Explorer and preschool educational show Team Umizoomi
• TNT and TBS: The Closer,House of Payne and For Better or Worse.
• USA: NCIS, Law & Order: SVU, Royal Pains and Suits.
I use the service of NFB Newsline on the phone to find out which programs have audio description. It is also a great source for listening to newspapers and magazines throughout the nation.
How to Access Video Description
Video description is provided through the TV or set top box “secondary audio” feature, which some TV controls identify as “SAP” or “secondary audio program.” The secondary audio may also be identified as a language feature, such as “Spanish” or “SPA,” because it is also used to provide Spanish or other language translations of English language TV programs. Depending upon the program being viewed, when listening to the secondary audio, you may hear the primary audio with video description, Spanish or other language translation, a duplicate of the primary audio, or silence.
Your TV user manual may provide information about activating the secondary audio feature, or you may contact the customer service department where you bought the TV or the customer service department of the TV manufacturer for assistance. If you have a set top box for subscription TV service, you may contact your subscription TV provider for assistance in activating the secondary audio.
I am a Verizon Fios customer and I had to change the cable box language from English to Spanish so that I can hear audio described programs.