If you have ever watched a movie or television show that uses audio description, sometimes also called video description, then you might have realized how valuable this type of service can be for someone who has a visual disability, hearing loss, or even a person who is a non-native language speaker. You may have also noticed, though, that there seems to be no quality, methodology or technology standard to which service providers can turn for guidance in the deployment of described media.
Director of Digital Accessible Media, Robert Pearson is one of the presenters at this month’s CSUN 2012 Conference on Disability. Here he explains how his organization proposes an industry standard for accessible media. What is Accessible Media Inc. all about? Pearson says, "Accessible Media Inc., (AMI) makes the media of everyday life — newspapers, magazines, TV, movies and the Internet – accessible to the more than 5 million Canadians who are blind, low-vision, print restricted, deaf, hard of hearing, mobility impaired, learning disabled or learning English as a second language. We are a not-for-profit, operating two broadcast services; AMIaudio and AMItv."
AMI will be presenting at the 27th International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN) on the topic of international media accessibility guidelines around the development of descriptive video (DV) standards. If you have never heard of descriptive video before, Pearson offers the following:
"DV is a process that adds a descriptive voice on the audio for the benefit of people who are blind or low-vision, allowing them to hear descriptions of key visual elements appearing on screen. Recognized as both a science and an art form, the availability, distribution and production of descriptive video is not significant in comparison to main stream or even closed captioned content. Internationally, the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia have all led the creation of descriptive video content. However, industry and international standards do not yet exist and therefore the content that is being produced uses different guidelines. This results in a lack of uniformity of content."
What are the goals of the presentation? "Through this presentation we would like to initiate the discussion to bring about the uniformity of international standards. Canada is leading the way in terms of the implementation of accessible broadcasting, as indicated through the licensing and support of AMItv. AMItv is the world’s first channel to broadcast all programming with 100% Open Described Video and Closed Captioning.
AMI is participating in the Government of Canada’s, Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) DV working group to ensure the technical viability of and to increase the awareness of this service through the implementation of an online DV TV Guide. Following the completion of those efforts, AMI will be guiding the Canadian broadcast industry with the support of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) in the development of industry wide DV standards."
You can follow Accessible Media Inc. on Twitter: @a11ymedia