Appreciating the art of making movies accessible to the blind

audio description
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To someone who is sighted, watching a horror movie is conducive to what is seen more so than what is heard. If a blind or visually impaired movie lover wanted to watch the latest horror thriller the experience would be filtered through how well their friend or family member explained what was happening on the screen.

Today, audio description has changed that experience significantly. Audio description, also known as video description, serves as the narrative guide through the movie, detailing who does what, where, in between natural pauses in a movies soundtrack, including dialog Audio description, found on most DVD’s after the year 2012, serve as the gateway for blind and visually impaired viewers to the information that sighted people take for granted. Audio description is the eyes for the people who cannot see the facial expressions, the object clues placed conveniently in some horror movies, or the splat of gore left by a memorable horror movie event, such as a gruesome death scene.

As someone who relies on audio description for the delivery of a movie, the meaning of verbs and nouns holds greater weight to someone who watches horror flicks with their vision. I am at the mercy of someone else’s descriptions and they can be either stellar catches of word play that evoke the same feeling in me as someone who is sighted or they leave me feeling as though I am taking the scenic route alongside the others. Audio description must be crafted with careful delicacy.

To me, words are everything, even how the presentation is distributed. I have seen wonderful audio description where the describer used variously strong verbs penned by a good audio description writer. I have also seen movies where the use of simple words detracted the mood of the scene.

Words are important, because they hold their own kind of strength when used in certain contexts if someone just “runs away” rather than “dashes” or “sprints” with heart pounding music invading my ears signifying the mood, what is the absence of a well-placed verb doing? Detracting my focus from the story.

People say that pictures are worth a thousand words but words could manifest a thousand feelings.

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