Switched At Birth will have audio description in 2017.

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Ever since our first post about getting audio description on the TV show Switched at Birth we have been working hard on actually, either, making this happen, or, figuring out if it was ever going to happen. Our focus was on digital media because the ACB is covering the TV bit and doing it very well.

The phone calls and emails began.

We contacted many describers in the United States because we wanted to, first, try to see if they would even be willing to contract with either Netflix or Apple to produce platform based audio description. Even though it would only be on one service and not the rest, the audio description that is, the describers would be working and, since they were contracting with the VOD providers to produce exclusive description, they would be paid by the VOD providers.

Many describers wanted to do this. That wasn’t a cause for concern. Many were willing to do this, make exclusive audio description on certain platforms, especially for TV shows and movies that were never described. Some were so eager; they began relaying price quotes to us.

One describer who we emailed put us in touch with a very enthusiastic group of audio description students who were also fans at Switched at Birth. They were from the audio description institutes. We were very up front about them contracting with VOD platforms instead of us, because, simply put, we can’t afford it and it’s just better to do overall. We explained our past attempt to get this happening where Lizzy said that it looked like it wasn’t going to happen to Sam and I on twitter as well.

A plan was formed. Our team would try and contact the needed parties to get the two parties connected and working together. We tried. At first, we were ignored when we emailed the right people at these VOD companies, or, we were blindly sending out communication emails, hoping someone would be kind enough to drop a name or a phone number or an email address.

For a while it seemed as if we were not going to get a break. We got one however, in the form of Kevin at Tell Me TV the two connected and they got to work. Kevin didn’t have the rights to air the show on his video description on demand service and the team at the audio description school didn’t have the rights to produce anything as of yet. We figured if Kevin could just secure rights on his end then they could just work with Kevin.

That’s still pending, obtaining the rights. Meetings need to start and people need to talk to make this happen but Kevin did tell us that meetings were set up for the coming weeks, which is a great step in the right direction.

When we heard this news we figured we would still dig to find out if Netflix would host the independently produced audio description just in case Kevin learned of the prices the audio description team were proposing and changed his mind. Still, we were banking on Kevin because he’s the only one who didn’t ignore us or brush off our concerns or desires unlike other VOD companies. We figured we would look into what’s happening with the landscape of audio description on TV, what I jokingly call, old time audio description. Our team didn’t have to look far. Many of us are subscribed to the audio description mailing list. {This article was posted that talks about the FCC halting a lot of agenda items.](http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-fcc-just-caved-in-to-republican-demands-that-it-halt-work-on-major-issues) I began to panic but many people on our team told me to just cool my jets. Still, I was worried. The first thing stalled on the agenda is described TV? Really? When I asked on the audio description email list how we can combat the FCC killing so many agenda items, I was assured that nothing was going to be killed, that things were just on hold and stalled.

Still, I became even more restless and even more desperate to figure out if the VOD platforms would at least consider contracting with describers to produce audio description for a show that was never described. Not only did I want the show described, but I wanted another thing to become possible along with the show being described. Since people will cut the cord in a number of years and get their video online I wanted to insure that VOD companies would think about contracting describers. It would give the describers a lot more work and, they can make content described that never had audio description.

I put all of us to work with one email. Get on the phones, try to message our contacts again, we need to make contact. Emails were sent, phone calls were made, and, finally, we got a response.

Ironically, it was from Netflix, of all places. One content acquisition manager told us the following:

thanks for writing to us! Let me talk with the other folks internally about this and let me get back to you about this.

I made a note to follow up with her and also told my fellow members to remind me to follow up with her in January, after the new year.

The second reply came from Bryan in the captioning department at Netflix.

Hi! Thanks for writing us. I don’t know if you already know this but Switched at Birth is already in the process of being described by Disney. The person you should email about that is Christopher Stefanidis. Email here.

He didn’t say if all seasons were going to be described or if only the last season was going to be described on TV. I asked Chris this question, what seasons were going to be described, and if they were going to give the audio description to Netflix.
We heard back from the VP at Disney. Switched At Birth will be described! His reply is below.

Dear Mr. Kingett:
Thank you for your note and interest in Described Video Service for the television series, SWITCHED AT BIRTH.
Audio description tracks for this series are currently in production (targeted completion dates are listed below).
To date, we have delivered tracks for 29 episodes to Netflix.
Unless I am mistaken, I believe it is the policy of Netflix to post AD when an entire series is complete.
It appears that we will have created, conformed and delivered Season 5 by the end of February 2017.
Given the digital platforms’ content processing time, I would assume that the series would be fully described in English shortly thereafter.
As you may know, iTunes recently began support of AD for television content.
We are pleased to support AD where possible for this series and will be coordinating with iTunes (and any other US/CAN digital platform that supports AD) upon availability of all of the tracks.
This series is not currently licensed to TELL ME TV, but feel free to pass along the corresponding contact information and I will gladly connect the parties.
Should you have any questions or require further information, please contact me.
Regards,
Christopher Stefanidis
VP, Digital Distribution Operations & Strategy
Walt Disney Pictures and Television
xxx@xxx.com
(818) 560-6573.
The below dates are the dates the tracks are set to be created. They hope to give to these platforms. We heard back from Netflix on the hosting of these tracks. Even though they have a good number of tracks they will not release them until they have all of the tracks for the show and until they are checked for quality. We predict Netflix will release the tracks March 2017.
SWITCHED AT BIRTH (YR 1 2010/11 EPS 1-10) – 16th September 2016
SWITCHED AT BIRTH (YR 2 2011/12 EPS 11-30) – 18th October 2016
SWITCHED AT BIRTH (YR 3 2012/13 EPS 31-51) – 2nd December 2016
SWITCHED AT BIRTH (YR 4 2013/14 EPS 52-73) – 23rd January 2017
SWITCHED AT BIRTH (YR 5 2014/15 EPS 74-93) – 24th February 2017

The ACB is hosting a survey about audio description

The below has been lifted directly from their audio description project website.

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is seeking your valuable input and real-life experiences on audio description for broadcast cable television, mobile apps, streaming services, and film. In recent months, there has been a significant amount of movement in the television and film industry, which could greatly impact the quality and quantity of audio described choices for viewers.

ACB has developed a brief survey to collect information about your experiences accessing audio described content. This survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete, and your responses will be kept confidential. You can access the survey by clicking the following link:

Take Survey

Why We want audio description on Switched at birth.

Sam also keeps a blog on mental illness! Read it here!

UPDATE. You can write to the below folks and ask them about contracting with describers for shows that do not have an AD track, such as Switched at Birth.

Tracy Wright at Netflix.

Tweet: Hey @TWright_LA could you contract W/describers to add AD to shows without AD, such as Switched At Birth? #a11y

I first heard of the show Switched at birth about a year ago from my best friend Robert Kingett, manager of this blog. At the time I was starting to know a totally deaf woman in the building I live in. Previously I’d never had any deaf friends. I was really wanting to build a connection. Robert went to the florida school for the deaf and the blind, and so learned a good amount of sign language and has many deaf friends. So I sent him a lot of e-mails about like every interaction this girl and I had and how could I connect with her better. I was probably bugging the hell out of him because he had a lot of journalist stuff to do.

So eventually he just kept saying well the show switched at birth would have this example or that example of the stuff you’re wondering about. We don’t have ABC Family on our limited TV channels at Albany and I have a very small number of shows I like to watch. So I never heard of it. He told me that it was a teen drama focused on two girls who were switched at birth. How their reunification affects them and their family and the twist is that one of the girls is deaf. He said that the show had deaf actors and that there was as much communication in ASL as in English if not more. I thought this was awesome because I’d honestly not even heard of a deaf character on tv in the first place. So many people don’t even know what sign language is and I thought it was amazing what this show was doing for people of all disabilities. Showing that people with disabilities have full lives, don’t obsess over their disability and meet challenges as they go along. And that it’s not as hard as one would think to connect with someone who’s disabled and form a true friendship.

So finally I was like ok I’ll watch this show! So I went on Netflix and sat back ready for some heartwarming and thought provoking teen drama. As the first episode introduced Daphne and Bae there was a lot of dialogue. And so I could follow that story. Daphne’s mother was there and signed while she spoke which was nice. Shortly though it became clear that there were a lot of scenes shot completely in ASL. So there was just silence in those moments. Though I love audio description, and have never been so energized about advocating for it since meeting Robert, I’ve usually done pretty good with shows that have a lot of dialogue. But this was so different as part of a conversation could be going on in ASL and then someone talking in English so it was extremely difficult.

I was very disappointed as I then did some online research. There were many articles praising the show for it’s showcasing of characters with disabilities and positive effects of this on disabled and nondisabled individuals alike. Audio description is thankfully becoming the norm with different laws pushing for it’s inclusion in certain numbers of shows.

As online venues like Netflix and ITunes become more popular advocacy is pushing these platforms as well. And by and large they are responding to the need pretty well. So why then is an obviously disability centered show not accessible for blind/ low vision viewers. I don’t know the answer to this question. Maybe a lot of people still think that there’s no way a blind person can appreciate tv. Or that a blind person would want to watch something about deaf people. Your average person on the street would consider blindness and deafness to be opposing disabilities and therefore forming relationships/ sharing interests between those disabilities would be very difficult if not impossible.

This is why I strongly believe this show must be audio described to make a statement that blind people are interested in the show and the issues it raises for all disabilities. More importantly, we’re very interested and care about the issues affecting deaf people and want to be supportive. We want to learn about ASL, issues between deaf and hearing people that come up and in general bridge the gap between these disabilities. Because it’s not true that they’re a barrier. Months and months after my initial pestering of Robert about everything deaf I’ve made a deep and lasting connection with my friend. And ask him less questions because I realize I don’t need to pretend to know everything about deaf people to be her friend. That our friendship goes way beyond each of our disabilities. And I’m learning to sign. Which is a whole other story.

To sum up, we need as many people as possible to get on board with our efforts.

We’re currently corresponding with contacts at audio description organizations who are more than willing to provide AD in a fairly inexpensive and high quality manner. We’ve contacted the producer who unfortunately has not been able to pass on any contacts from ABC family itself. We’re turning to online platforms as our best bet for this project as the show is ending in 2017. We haven’t gotten any response from Netflix or Apple at this point.

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What we need is a lot of people behind us. It won’t happen with just two people saying we want this!

We need more voices. if anyone thinks about the show from this point of view, that it’s a disability centered piece, yet excludes blind access, it only makes sense to want to help as much as you can. I look forward to connecting with a lot of people around this. I know we can win if we work together!

Details of the Netflix accessibility agreement

On their accessibility page for Netflix, The ACB has written about the deal and what some of the deal will include, but we believe they are actively updating the page over time so check the page often! As of today, this is what the deal says, as written by the ACB on their website.

In April, 2016, an agreement between the ACB and several others was announced with Netflix.  While some of the points of agreement had been previously announced or implemented, several items are new.  Key points of the agreement are:

  • Netflix will request audio description tracks in all its new contracts with streaming content providers.  For third-party content that is already in the Netflix streaming library, the company “shall make reasonable efforts to obtain existing audio description assets” for those videos.
  • Netflix will provide audio description for TV and movies branded as “Netflix Original,” assuming it has the necessary rights for creating audio descriptions.  If Netflix doesn’t control the audio description rights, it will “make commercially reasonable efforts to secure and offer audio description.”
  • For DVD subscribers, Netflix “shall make commercially reasonable efforts” to offer discs with audio description on videos from third-parties, “whenever such videos are available.”
  • Netflix has agreed to add audio description search functions and will also make its website and mobile applications accessible to individuals who are blind and use screen-reading software.
  • The agreement specifies that by Dec. 31, 2016, Netflix will have updated all apps for all applicable devices to provide blind individuals using screen-reading technology with access to the same features available to sighted users

DRA and ACB settle on Netflix accessibility

DRA and ACB have reached a settlement with Netflix that will, basically, force them to be more accessible. The press release has been sent to us for release. For complete transparancy we are pasting the release below, with emails and phone numbers removed because, well, nobody likes spam!

Netflix to Enhance Access for Customers Who Are Blind

Berkeley, CA – April 14, 2016 – In a first-of-its-kind settlement, advocates for people who are blind have reached an agreement with Netflix to make accessible the movies and videos offered through the Netflix video streaming and DVD rental subscriptions. The settlement provides that Netflix will make its video content accessible by adding a new technology called “audio description” as a feature that blind customers can activate so they can more fully understand and enjoy the movie and video experience.  

The settlement was reached between Netflix and the American Council of the Blind (ACB).   The Massachusetts-based Bay State Council of the Blind (BSCB) and Robert Baran, an individual who is blind, were also parties to the settlement. These blind advocacy organizations and Mr. Baran were represented by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national non-profit legal center.

Netflix provides one of the nation’s most popular online streaming and DVD rental services, offering convenient and affordable video entertainment, including original content, to millions of Americans.

Under the agreement, Netflix will provide audio description for many popular titles in its streaming and disc rental libraries. Audio description technology lets blind people know what is happening in scenes without dialogue or scenes with significant visual elements via an audio description track that contains narration of the visual elements that is synchronized with the show or movie. Television and movie studios will create the audio description tracks and provide them to Netflix. Without audio description, blind individuals do not know what is happening in scenes without dialogue and can misinterpret the meaning of other scenes. Under the settlement, Netflix will also provide audio description for the “Netflix Original” shows that Netflix has begun distributing such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black

Under the agreement, Netflix will also make its website and mobile applications accessible to individuals who are blind and use screen-reading software to navigate websites and apps. Screen-reading software is an interface between people who are blind or low vision and computers and/or mobile applications. The software creates an audio version of text and images that appear on a screen that it reads aloud to a user. The user then controls the computer or mobile device by pressing keys or tapping on a mobile application. With the changes Netflix is making, users who are blind or low vision will be able to independently use the Netflix website and mobile applications.

This agreement is the first-of-its-kind to provide screen-reader and audio access to users who are blind or low vision. These improvements will provide people who are blind or low vision with unparalleled access to online video entertainment services currently enjoyed by millions of Americans.  Millions of Americans identify as having a visual disability.

Kim Charlson, President of the American Council of the Blind, commented, “We applaud Netflix for working with us to enhance access to its services for people who are blind. Our goal is to expand the availability of Netflix’s services to the blind community and to increase the availability of audio described film and television programming. Movies and television are a central pillar of American culture. As television and movies are increasingly delivered through streaming and home delivery services, ensuring that the blind community receives access to this content is critical to ensure that people who are blind are integrated into modern society.”

Attorney Rebecca Williford of Disability Rights Advocates explains, “This is a great example of technology promoting greater accessibility and inclusiveness for people with disabilities. We hope that the outcome of our collaboration with Netflix will serve as a model for others in the online video entertainment industry.”

A copy of the settlement agreement is available at http://dralegal.org/.

DRA is investigating Hulu and Amazon Instant accessibility

Hulu and Amazon instant are not as accessible as they could be. This is common understanding among people who use adaptive technology. Disability Rights Advocates, a not for profit law firm, is investigating these complaints to, hopefully, move forward with advocating for better access on these platforms. The below is a PSA that was posted to the audio description email list.

Disability Rights Advocates is investigating complaints from blind individuals who report that the Amazon Video and Hulu websites and mobile applications are not accessible, and from blind individuals who want audio description tracks to be made available on Amazon Video and Hulu.  We would greatly appreciate speaking with you if you are blind and you have either confronted access barriers yourself while using Amazon Video or Hulu, or you have chosen not to subscribe to Amazon Video or Hulu because you have heard about access barriers.

To share your experiences, please contact Julia Marks by phone at (510) 665-8644 or by email at jmarks@dralegal.org.

Rebecca Williford
Senior Staff Attorney
Disability Rights Advocates
2001 Center Street, Third Floor
Berkeley, California  94704-1204
510 665 8644 x.123 (Tel)
510 665 8511 (Fax)

As Netflix becomes more accessible, what’s next?

Here is a potition that asks for Hulu to add audio descriptions.

For years, our team has been pressuring Netflix to make their content and service accessible. We have succeeded in many fronts, with the latest accomplishment being that Netflix has switched to a fully accessible HTML 5 player.

They are adding audio description in countries other than the United States as well. Our UK team members report that we have more described titles than they do to choose from but their selections are growing as well.

So, our team asked, over at the Facebook group, what’s next? We’re not finished advocating for greater accessibility on streaming platforms. It’s 2016, after all. More should be done to ensure this happens.

Our next target is Hulu, but we will still continue to advocate for blind and visually impaired customers as well as other streaming services, even YouTube.

We will advocate for captions, and web design for the mobility impaired as well. Our team consists of a wide array of staff with a varying array of disabilities and we care about all streaming media customers.

I just want to say, from the team, thank you to all readers, guest bloggers, and news outlets that have helped us show the importance and need for accessible design. It’s not over yet, but this is certainly an epic start!

Over the course of the coming weeks, the blog will get a new design as well as name to better reflect our mission and size. We have grown and hope to expand even more in the years to come. Thank you everyone! May the accessibility be with you!

Possible Netflix partner replies regarding new layout accessibility

The other day we reported briefly about the new Netflix layout. Even though we reported that the layout was somewhat usable, it is not accessible. Today, an Email was sent to various Netflix staff and employees of consultants and partners. Below is the Email that was sent today.

Hi this is Robert Kingett from the Accessible Netflix Project. We’d like to inform you that the new layout Netflix adopted on desktops is not completely accessible to people who use a screen reader. Many people have written to us and have illustrated the problems they had using the new layout on desktops and mobile web.

The screen reader’s focus does not stick due to the nature of the thumbnails. The previous version of the website was much more accessible, according to many users of different screen readers.

JAWS users report the site is not usable at all since the layout change.

We’d love to put you in touch with web accessibility experts for consultation. We, too, would love to assist in making the site more accessible for your blind customers.

If you’d like to talk via phone about this, my number is 850-764-2161.

we have received a reply from someone who appears to work in a lower division of Netflix or a partner. The signature of the reply does not have details. The below is the reply we have received from someone with the domain @pulsecom.com.au.

Than

Dear Robert,
Thanks for your email and flagging the below. 
We have passed on your message and offer to the relevant teams at Netflix who will circle back in due course if they would like to take up your kind offer. 
Once again, appreciate the note. 
All the best,
Javi

New Netflix layout has mixed accessibility results

A few weeks ago Netflix adopted a new interface. This new interface appeals to the sighted users by providing easier to see thumbnails. In essence, it looks as though they want to unify the mobile view and the desktop view. How accessible is the new layout? Many different users report different things.

A Voiceover user running a Mac says that the new layout works really well. He says that it is easier to cycle through his list of curated titles and he also says that it is easier to hear what episode he is currently on for each show. He has found no unlabeled buttons as of yet. The new layout appears to have an infinite scroll feature but this is not the case. Netflix just has a lot of categories listed on the main page after logging on.

An NVDA user in Washington has reported to us that the site works so so with her Windows machine. She has described the so so part to be a slight frustration with the screen reader because it appears to get stuck on a graphic that’s an advertisement for a movie, TV show, or new Netflix original. When users finally make it past that, she says they will have no trouble at all with the new layout. She did say that pressing the space bar on elements such as links don’t work when you want to watch a movie or TV show. Sometimes the enter key doesn’t work either and you will have to access this show by searching for it and hitting the enter button on the summary page. She reports that it is beyond easy and smooth to read the show and episode descriptions before playing the show and dealing with that inaccessible player on windows. She has also said that now, the rating stars have been labeled, whereas before, they were not.

Authors note. My NVDA courser gets stuck on the advertisement as well but I don’t know how to navigate past it other than immediately jumping by headings before it can fully load. I can’t make any personal comments about what I’ve experienced using the new layout yet but I will do so on YouTube.

A JAWS user reports that, accessibility is not the issue. JAWS crashes when he loads the website, and even when he is trying to browse his own list of tiles. Another JAWS user says that there’s a lot of strings of code he hears when he moves around the Netflix website. Another JAWS user says that the layout is better for him, much better than the other layout. The latest version of JAWS works the best. Version 12 and below will face many issues.

A Window Eyes user in Chicago has reported that everything is read to him as he navigates the site, meaning no unlabeled images or anything but he does say that Window Eyes will stutter on Netflix more than any other site but we believe that’s a computer error, not an accessibility error. He can use all controls with the exception of the player. Window Eyes, based on his reporting, seems to be the screen reader that works best with the new layout.

Daredevil season 2 may be described

With the release of Daredevil season 2 acquired by Netflix on April 21, many wonder if season 2 will have audio description just as season one does. It appears that season 2 of Daredevil will not be described. At least, Netflix has no idea if season 2 will be described.

In a blog post, Netflix has stated original shows will be described, including Daredevil, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Marco Polo, and others, but the blog post was not clear about the availability of audio description for seasons beyond the first season.

With the announcement of season 2 of Daredevil, the Accessible Netflix Project team immediately reached out to Netflix to inquire if the next season be described as well. We assumed it was. Netflix doesn’t want to comment on the matter.

In an Email from Cliff Edwards, Director of Corporate Communications at Netflix, he clearly states,

We haven’t announced a release date on DD season 2, nor have we commented on which originals will have audio descriptions beyond the blog posting a couple of weeks ago. You can refer to that blog for a discussion on future plans.

Thanks “

when asked for clarification, Edwards directed us to his first Email, telling us that if we wanted to use something, we can consult the blog.

It would, quite frankly, make sense to describe all seasons of a show. No more information has been released on this matter but it is safe to assume that Daredevil will have AD for the entire run.

VICTORY! Daredevil has audio description with more to come

Today marks a historical victory for our team, Netflix, and the blind community. Today, Netflix has added audio description to their original show Daredevil.

Netflix has announced in a blog post released earlier today that Daredevil isn’t the only show that will have audio description. According to the blog, “we’ll add more titles, including current and previous seasons of the Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning political thriller House of Cards, Emmy award-winning comedy-drama series Orange is the New Black, as well as Tina Fey’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the epic adventure series Marco Polo.”

We’re all rejoicing over this news. This marks a day for advancement. This is a day that proves that anything is possible and that other companies should follow suit. We’re hoping Hulu and others follow Netflix’s course of action. It’s technically and financially doable, after all, so there isn’t an excuse anymore.

As mentioned on Twitter, however, the web player is still inaccessible to screen readers. Nevertheless, many blind and visually impaired Netflix subscribers are happily enjoying Daredevil described.

The audio description plays on computers and video game systems including the PS4 and Xbox One.

Here’s an informative post on how to enable Audio Description for the iOS devices, Android devices, and the Apple TV:

Netflix illustrated that this is a pilot test, and will be fixing bugs in the coming weeks, in addition to adding audio description to the shows mentioned above. They have also illustrated they’d explore adding audio description in different languages.

Now comes the easy part. The DVD’s that have audio description can easily be added to the platform. We’re still advocating but we are celebrating this victory loudly and proudly.

Netflix detailed plans for future audio description by saying ” Over time, we expect audio description to be available for major Netflix original series, as well as select other shows and movies. We are working with studios and other content owners to increase the amount of audio description across a range of devices including smart TVs, tablets and smartphones. ”

To sum everything up nicely, a Washington post report says it all.

Daredevil petition and audio description advances with Amazon.

We have good news in the accessibility world today regarding Netflix and daredevil and audio description, and Amazon instant and Amazon

a Change.org user by the name of Ryan Dyck in Arlington, VA has created a petition to Netflix, asserting they should make their original show described so the blind and the visually impaired can enjoy this show.

The petition is titled “Make Daredevil Available to The Blind Community”

in other news, Amazon is looking into adding an audio description filter to their DVD searches in the USA. On Amazon UK there’s an audio description filter that lists all DVDs the UK has with audio description. Users can even narrow down the described DVD’s by genre, studio, ETC.

with a bit of advocating on Twitter, Amazon is actively listening.

That’s not all, however. They have said that Amazon instant might be a possibility regarding hosting streamed movies and TV shows with audio description.

At the time of this writing they have not provided us with direct contacts yet but we will update this page with any new developments

Navigating Netflix NZ with NVDA and a CNBC feature

With the launch of Netflix Australia and New Zealand, we asked the question will Netflix be accessible with regards to screen readers? A tutorial demonstrates that Netflix, in New Zealand is very much usable by NVDA users.

There’s a written tutorial with notes about navigating Netflix Australia using NVDA, including playing videos and episodes, navigating, and managing your account. Links are elow.

Text tutorial.

Audio tutorial.

In other news, CNBC has written about us! The article centers around our efforts to try and get DareDevil described. Though it centers around the Netflix original series, it also highlights the larger issue of Netflix accessibility and, even, audio description, as well.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102563311

Donating your social media accounts to share Netflix accessibility updates

For the past two years we have been bringing you news on video demand accessibility, advocacy efforts, and more. Today, we’re inviting you to help us spread our message.

We have created a donate my account page where people can donate their Facebook’s and twitters to help spread our updates to a wider audience.

Donating your social media accounts simply means that, when we set a message to go out onto all of your accounts, you will tweet that message or post it to Facebook. We are not asking for dollar donations. We’re asking, here and now, that you help us spread our updates and message.

Donate your account here

Audio description advances and push back from Netflix again

It’s a new year and that means new advances are popping up in the tech world, and on our blog, and in the world of audio description on demand.

While our team has been sleeping and getting fat over the holidays others have been very hard at work prepping their audio description on demand services for the public. Note that we don’t have many updates to talk about because these kinds of services rely on two critical aspects: content and funding, which take a while to secure. Both companies have made significant strides in each area.

Zagga Entertainment or Zagga TV.

Zagga TV has been making strides with licensing and development. Their website has undergone some changes. The text size has increased site wide and the links are easier to see visually. Some links have been removed from the main navigation bar, such as the samples link, but the about the team link now includes links to LinkedIn profiles.

According to a blog post the founder, Kevin, wrote, they have already acquired content deals.

We’ve also been busy this year speaking to the studios about licensing great content for our VOD service. We’re very happy to report that we have landed our first two content deals with two great Canadian distributors and we are happily closing deals with two Hollywood distributors offering us movies and TV shows from a wide range of genres, including children’s programming. We’ll be making an announcement about this once the contracts are officially signed. Other studios are in the wings waiting to sign on with us and we’re thrilled that they see described video as a worthwhile endeavour for them and for us.

Further, down, he illustrates the progression of the development, even though they didn’t reach their fund raising goal. $18,926 CAD was raised out of a $50,000 goal. This campaign ended on June 14, 2014.

in a video Kevin Shaw provides a sneak peek of the Zagga iPad app and provides a look ahead to the service.

TalkingFlix.

TalkingFlix has made more website changes than anything else. The site has cleaned up very nicely with a new accessibility menu on all pages. The main layout of the website is still high contrast friendly and users can still sign up to get credits for referring people to the service, which will apply to their account when the service launches.

Here is a nifty update straight from the TalkingFlix news blog about where they are at and what they are doing to move forward with the launch.

Netflix.

What advances has Netflix been making by way of audio description this year? Telling the CRTC no regarding described video, pretty much the same way they told us no several times.

Netflix knows it’s not doing the right thing by not providing described content if the content already exists. In a company, however, money talks. With the launch of Zagga TV and TalkingFlix blind and visually impaired people will not need Netflix anymore because there will be a service that is accessible that they can turn their dollars to. Eventually, perhaps, Netflix will realize that a significant portion of their revenue is dwindling but the hopes the company will fully acknowledge and support the needs of blind customers is a bit of a stretch. Netflix has shown, time and time again, that they have no plans to support the blind populace.

Better services are on the way, however, that take care of the entertainment needs of the blind. This year is certainly shaping out to be an epic year!

Trying to getNBC’s reality show “Starting Over” online

We believe that advocating for what you believe in should be done regardless of how small the task. That is why we want to showcase this blog post from a blind Chicago resident. Starting Over is not described at all but could be. Many TV shows are described on one platform and not the other, as well. This blog post demonstrates a bit of explanation on why audio description should be taken seriously on all accounts.

Matters to Sam

Hi Everyone,

It’s been a  long long time since I’ve been on here!  I don’t really know if people read this or not, so have been concintrating more on making videos.

However, I thought I’d put something on here about this project I’m doing to see if anyone has  thoughts or ways they could help.

The producers of the real world  did a show that ran from 2003 to 2006called “Starting Over” It featured six women living together in a house working on life goals with the help of   coaches Rhonda Britten, Iyanla Van Zant, and Stan Katz a psychologist. It showed the ups and downs of the women’s  progress in the house,  both on  their individual goals and also issues within the group. The issues dealt from ranged from working on finding better romantic relationships, to redefining  identity, to learning to  “grow up”, to addressing child abuse ETC. I…

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Audio description news and a strong attempt at getting to Netflix again

There are some very slow yet palpable advancements with audio description happening in the USA, and yes, with us as well and what we are doing. First though, we want to bring some audio description news to you that showcases the increasing advancement of audio description.

Justice Dept Proposes ADA Modification for Movie Theater Accessibility.

On Friday, July 25, Attorney General Eric Holder signed a Notice of Proposed Rule making (NPRM) to amend the Title III regulation for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to require movie theaters to provide closed movie captioning and audio description in order to give persons with hearing and vision disabilities access to movies. Read the full announcement.

Emirates Airline Introduces Movies With AD Tracks

Emirates, who was recently awarded the ‘World’s Best Airline Inflight Entertainment’ award at the SKYTRAX World Airline Awards for the 10th consecutive year, now offers Audio Description soundtracks on 16 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures films. Read the article on Emirates.

Lionsgate starting to release DVD’S with AD.

Until now Lionsgate have published the audio description tracks in theaters and not on DVDS. This is changing, or so we hope. They are beginning to release the audio description tracks onto DVD’s that are in theaters. We’re not sure if this is an ongoing thing but we are pleased that Lionsgate and their Summit Entertainment subsidiary have been releasing a few audio described videos lately, though sometimes only on Blu-ray.

That’s all the news for today. Now I want to tell you about yet another attempt to get Netflix to work with us, before sending them the news article in SF Weekly that has been trending on Facebook. Thank you by the way.

In a Skype chat with a few of our team members we debated about trying, yet again, to open up a dialog about Netflix accessibility. The promises didn’t look very good, with their last Email directly to us has been august of last year. We debated, pondered, deliberated, and pondered some more.

“You know what? I think we should,” Kate said over sounds of a dog wining to go outside. She then added a thought that we didn’t know how to even proceed with. Should we send them the SF article?

“I don’t think so,” I suggested. “that could seem as if we are taunting them and I don’t want to do that.”

“Robbie,” Angela, another team member interjected, “there’s a fine difference between taunting and saying that we don’t want to be ignored anymore. We want to have someone there tell us, at least, we want to do it, and we, at least, want to be taken seriously. We want to help, and It’s stupid that we are being ignored.”

“Seriously guys, I get it, I seriously do. We’re all frustrated. We have been at this for a little over a year. We want to have the company tell us they are working on it but don’t you think that’s nudging a bit too much?” there was a collective groan filling my earphones not even a second after I finished my thoughts. My team weighed in. at least, the local Chicago team anyway. Their minds were set but was it even worth it? What would that accomplish, sending them the article in SF weekly, I didn’t think it would make them want to be our friend any faster but I didn’t have any ideas at all. My pool of plans and strategies drained like water in a tub. The decision was up to me and I had no idea how to proceed at all.

“Let’s meet at the library tomorrow,” I said, “in a meeting room with our laptops and IPhones.”

“You don’t have an IPhone, remember?” Kate interjected mockingly.

The next day rolled around and with it came a meeting where the Chicago team all huddled around a circular table, looking at past emails and documents in a library. To the public eye we were college kids furiously researching documents. To us, we were lost activists wondering how the professionals managed to keep their hair dashingly combed. We broke off into individual teams. I was on the Email trail, hunting down old emails to send to yet again within the Netflix company, Kate dialed and dialed the Netflix corporate office, navigating to any random person higher up than a customer service personnel hoping that we could, at least, talk to someone live about our letter we sent last year and invitations to start dialogs but she kept hitting voice-mails. Angela, in between downloading books on her Victor Reader Stream, was hunting around the web for people who have mentioned us. Perhaps Netflix publicly said something about us. If they did we all wanted to know what it would say, for sure.

About an hour into our tasks Angela let out a very preppy “OMG you guys, you guys, guess what?!

“What?” I said, “you see Will Smith In here just waiting for my marriage proposal?”

“He is not attractive,” Kate moaned with a grin, “:you just don’t know your stars, do you?”

“you are blind,” I reminded her with a smile.

“Redbox just got totally told by DRA!” she squealed, swiveling the laptop towards us just as Kate was leaving yet another message on yet another answering machine at Netflix. Remembering that she still had the ear-buds in, and that she literally swiveled the laptop toward us, she blushed and unplugged the headphones to have NVDA read us an article about Redbox in California having to make implementations to aid the blind. We looked up disability rights advocates and soon found an Email. The ladies immediately forwarded the Email to my cell, declaring that I was to contact them and ask them to help us. I quickly typed out an Email and sat there a while before sending, with the girls and I listening to the Email several times before actually sending it.

With their urging, I pulled up an Email with all the Netflix contacts in one BCC field and pasted the article in SF weekly in the body of the message as a link. Kate, meanwhile, was leaving her last voice mail of the day.

“Hi. This is Kate, I’m a member of the accessible Netflix project, I want to talk to someone about, not accessibility, but about getting a movie onto Netflix. I think that Star Wars would be such a wonderful movie to have on Netflix because it still teaches kids the importance of imagination and belief. Besides, everybody grew up on Star Wars. Netflix should make us feel more like we’re living the good old days and have all Star Wars movies on there, because we love the force. Thank you! My number is,” she gave her number, “If you want to talk about this matter. Thank you and I look forward to having a lively discussion about Star Wars.” with a flourish and a heavy sigh, she hung up, looked at me, and glared.

“That’s it. Send the Email now or else I will call Netflix asking for Barnie next.” smiling, I definitively pressed the SEND button and awaited our future. No response from Netflix at all.

Team Member Spotlight, Rocco Fiorentino

Hello everyone, my name is Rocco Fiorentino. I was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and became totally blind due to ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity). I only have light perception now.

 

I’ve been playing piano and singing since I was 2 years old, and my love and passion for music has allowed me to play with and meet some incredible people throughout my life. I am 17 now, and attending Berklee College of Music in Boston MA in the fall of 2014. If you’re interested in checking out my music or learning more about me, please visit

http://www.musicbyrocco.com

 

I’ve also been a strong advocate for the blind and visually impaired community, which is why I joined the accessible Netflix Project. At the age of 5, I testified to the New Jersey State legislators to obtain more Braille services for blind and visually impaired children. I decided to do this because I realized that I couldn’t keep up with my sighted classmates because I was only receiving 1 hour of Braille per week, while my classmates were reading print every single day. As a result of my speech, the legislatures awarded $1.2 million to Braille education and services. I’m hoping to get the same positive advocacy results with this project. 🙂

 

My parents and I started a foundation when I was born, called the Little Rock Foundation, to provide services, programs, and resources to visually impaired or blind children and their families. We started a summer camp for these children, because most typical summer camps will not take a child who has a sight impairment because they are too high of a liability risk for the camp. We also have resource centers in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to provide information and assistance to parents and their children. For more about the foundation, feel free to visit

http://www.tlrf.org

 

I am extremely excited to take on the task of getting Netflix programming to be audio-described. This is something which should have been available to the blind and visually impaired community a long time ago, and I’m ready to help the team in making it a reality.

 

Advocating for audio description on Netflix’s Daredevil series

Hi guys and ladies and everyone else, young and old, this is Katie, temporarily taking over Robert’s WordPress account to blog about what we all have been doing while he prepares for the 2014 ACB conference next week, which, he will participate via Skype.

There have been a lot of developments with Netflix over the past month. A lot of it deals with content. Shows have come and go. They are still not addressing accessibility for the blind and the visually impaired. The biggest news, however, is that Netflix will be producing a Daredevil TV series

UPDATE: This publication says it will be a Netflix movie.

The Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada is really excited about the project. We all are. All of us are huge comic book lovers!

Robert contacted him via twitter about adding audio description to this series so that blind and visually impaired Netflix users can fully enjoy the show. We hope he replies!

UPDATE: The webmaster of  manwithoutfear.com has replied to our tweet!

We have been sending emails and tweets directly to Netflix, as well, to try to plant a seed in their minds. Unfortunately, we have not received a reply yet.

Hannah wrote the below Email and sent it. We deliberated over the wording and then some, worried it sounded too pushy but in the end we sent it feeling really good about what we wrote!

We have called Netflix corporate and have left several messages at different answering machines, as well. no response yet

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Adding audio description to Daredevil
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 21:53:17 -0500
From: Accessible Netflix Project team
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Hi there. This is one of the Accessible Netflix Project team members writing to you to say congratulations on producing another show in the making, as outlined in the article here. We are sure that this will be an excellent show for everyone and we want to thank you for producing this series.

Daredevil is a hero loved by all, including blind comic book fans. Since we could not find any definitive answer online could you elaborate on plans, if any, about adding audio description to the show so that blind and sighted can enjoy the heroics together?

Adding audio description would certainly help to create an accessible series for everyone who wishes to watch it. Everyone could have fun and discuss the series. Families with blind spouses can all use the benefits of adding audio description to this series.

Adding audio description could also be a wonderful way of spreading accessibility awareness and showing other companies that adding audio description does more than just allow the blind to see. This could provide awareness to budding producers who may want to follow in your footsteps. Adding audio description would certainly be a win for everybody and we want to help make it happen.

We would be more than happy to provide resources and give input on dialogue regarding audio description. We would love to provide links to describers and production resources and much more. There are not many options on the web for accessible media. Doing this would definitely show other companies how and why accessibility matters. You’d be setting a phenomenal example for many companies.

We, as stated above, would love to help you with resources and information regarding audio description and audio description matters. If you’re already pursuing audio description, could you let us know that as well? Thank you for your time!

A few days later an Email flew into our inbox with gusto but it was not a reply from Netflix. A man tipped us off about the FCC here in the USA. It turns out that the FCC have a audio description committee. The link is below.

http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/video-programming-accessibility-advisory-committee-vpaac

And here are the committee members.

http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/vpaac-members

We haven’t been able to find contact methods for the committee yet but we will look when all of us have some down time after all the conventions are over with. This way we can focus on what needs to be focused on and we can be a stronger voice where we need to be.

The only thing that we can do now is wait, and wait, and hope. You can help. Tweet your support to @netflix or @JoeQuesada and let them know how adding audio description to this epic show would benefit so many! Thank you all! We will be back after the conventions!

Moving in the Right Direction: Disabilities in Media and the Need for Audio Description

This post also highlights the need for audio description on Netflix, as well, even if it is indirectly

Blinkie Chicks

We recently read a blog post, entitled Sex, Blinks and Video Tape, about the way people with disabilities are portrayed in media. The person who wrote the blog post surveyed some people and did some research to see how many disabled characters they could find in films and television shows. Although the number of disabled roles is very limited, it continues to grow in recent years. With that said, the roles of these characters often reinforce negative stereotypes about people with disabilities. Disabled characters are viewed as either perfect angels are as a threat to society. Not only are these roles played by able-bodied actors, but the roles themselves are often inaccurate representations of the lives of disabled people. Additionally, the fictional characters in movies and television shows who have disabilities are usually disabled at a later age, due to some sort of injury. While this is the case…

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New team members and collaborating with RNIB

Over these past few weeks, we have been collaborating with a lot of different people and getting many team members acclimated to the blog dashboard so they can post audio, video, or regular blogs whenever they want to.

We have gained 10 new team members in the past week so we are all working to update the site, collaborate, and they are all working on their wicked introductions that they want to share. Some of them will be audioboos, others will be YouTube videos, and others will be epic blog posts.

Amidst all of the initiations, we have been talking to the RNIB about initiating a dialogue and a deeper partnership regarding Netflix and our future plans of action that we are strategizing.

At 10 AM Central Time, Wednesday, April 23, RNIB, Joel Snyder from the audio description project, Kim from the ACB, and a few team members from our campaign will participate in a Skype call to discuss matters relating to audio description and accessibility. As we’re working towards the next step in advocacy, we want to be sure that this will benefit people in different countries, such as the UK since Netflix is available in countries other than the United States.

At the moment, we are trying to connect with various people, locally, nationally, and internationally to form a toothsome voice for accessible media services on the web. When we can, we will release details.

What’s after RNIB? CNIB in Canada! If anyone knows people in CNIB, point them to us and tell them to have a poke around our site!

Netflix keeps refusing accessibility and audio description

Over the last few months, we have been trying to get a definitive answer about whose responsibility is it to provide audio description during production, and after production and broadcasting. It has taken a while to get answers to these questions because it’s a very complicated matter simply because audio description is not as mainstreamed as we all would like audio description to be. Since it is very new naturally, one person appeared to handle it but it turns out that the person initially contacted doesn’t handle audio description at all, even the legal aspect, but here’s an email to try! This process repeated for several months. The good thing, however, is that we finally have a definitive answer regarding audio description on all sides, the TV side and the web side of things.

The text below is from a team member, who wishes to remain nameless, that explains audio description in the past, and going forward, as far as the TV network side of things. We have been utilizing all of our connections to get this answer.

Moving forward on new T.V. Shows and Movies, it will be the studios responsibility to handle the described video. On older titles the studios, production companies, and networks are all arguing over whose responsibility it is to provide described video, and of course this is nowhere near a resolution. The issue on future shows and movies is also complicated as the work for described video is costly, and there is a writer guild issue, meaning will the Described Video that is being provided for a movie or television show is considered Writers Guild work or nonunion work? Obviously again this is a compensation issue and nothing has been determined as of yet. While this all sounds like a lot, the good that I take away from all of this is that Described Video is on the Studios and Production Houses radar and I’m sure all of this will be settled the next time contract negotiations with the WGA takes place.

It’s no question that the people who are responsible for producing audio description are, as the above said, the studios. They have to actively engage in audio description, that means contacting audio description companies and working with them up until production and even, in some cases, after. Once it airs on TV and in movies. studios have definitely done what they needed to do by way of audio description and don’t need to do anything more. Since the studios included audio description on the TV show and or movie they are not responsible for other forms of media to provide the same audio description on other platforms. That responsibility lies with a different party altogether.

In the beginning stages of the project we have tried to contact Netflix about adding audio description to their streaming TV shows and movies, thinking that it was their responsibility to provide audio description onto their platform since the audio description that we wanted to see, current audio description that was on TV, on Netflix as well. They have sent us email after email pointing fingers at the studios that produce these shows. They told us repeatedly that audio description on their service didn’t have anything to do with their decisions. Naturally, this didn’t make  any sense since, if it was broadcasted with audio description elsewhere then Netflix would have to be responsible since they are distributing content that has audio description elsewhere and not on their platform.

They kept telling us   no, that they are not, and or would never be responsible for providing audio description on their platform. This is incorrect. Netflix are, without a doubt, responsible. We’re just not sure why they don’t want to do it. We’re not sure why they keep pointing the finger at the TV studios when the studios have done what they needed to do and provide audio description for their respected platform. In this case, on TV. It’s Netflix who should be asking for those audio description tracks along with the TV show files but they are not and they keep telling everyone who asks about it that they are not responsible. This is a bold-faced lie. They are, without a doubt, responsible. They just don’t want to admit that they are responsible nor provide audio description.

Since Netflix is hosting the content that has audio description elsewhere and not on their platform they are definitely responsible for ensuring that the content has audio description on their platform as well.

Netflix definitely has a responsibility to provide it if an already described track is available. Since we know who does what and who’s in charge of what going forward, this will be a good way to tell Netflix that the people who you need to be talking to are clearly defined and also, that you are not doing it at all. It’s the studio’s job to make the audio description. They have done so, and are even broadcasting it on TV. The responsibility to distribute audio description on different platforms lies within the platform creator. In this case it would be Reed. He’s the creator of the platform. Netflix are actively not making any efforts at all to have audio description.

As a side note, they are not making any accessibility initiatives either, for screen reader and magnifier users, on the desktop environment and on the mobile side of things but that will be for a different blog post.

Since Netflix have refused to provide audio description and, also, provide a fully accessible interface, we are asking for your help more than ever. Let them know they are responsible but they are refusing to be responsible. Be sure to let other video on demand companies know this is wrong and we hope other video on demand services don’t follow in Netflix’s business practice. We hope that other video on demand services do not make this kind of business practice their own. Everyone should be able to enjoy the same content as others.

Share your Netflix accessibility experiences on our YouTube channel.

Today we have just launched our YouTube channel, where we will host videos relating to Netflix accessibility as well as other accessibility matters created entirely by you!

The channel will be user driven and community driven, so everyone will get a chance to have their voices heard. There are two ways to send videos to us to host on our channel and they will be explained below.

All videos will be added to a playlist so that way users won’t be uploading anything directly to our account. Besides, YouTube doesn’t have that option.

Users can submit any video that they wish to be included in our channel. You can submit anything from VLOGS to a screen capture demonstrating accessibility matters. If it’s a screen capture that you are doing, please have audio with the video, otherwise, we will ask that you record the video again.

Even though you can submit anything to the channel, we do ask two things from you.

Don’t swear excessively. Obviously you can express yourself in a way that you wish but excessive swearing isn’t something we want to hear.

Keep background noise to a minimum.

That’s it! That’s all that we ask. now we will explain how to send your videos to us.

If you have a YouTube account you can just upload your video to your own channel, with “Accessible Netflix Project” somewhere in the title, and send us the URL to the video and then we can add it to our playlist. There’s a contact us link in the navigation bar where people can send their links or just message our YouTube channel.

If you want to upload videos by email click here.

The title of your video will be the subject line and the message body will be the video description.

If you don’t have a YouTube you can upload your video to our drop box, or use send space to send the file to us.

If you’re in the United States you will have to use this link because that’s just how the service works!

http://www.jotform.us/form/40764616111145

If you are sending your file outside the United States, click the below link.

http://www.jotform.com/form/40764616111145

If you want to send the file via send space visit https://www.sendspace.com/ and enter our email address, found by clicking contact us.

Here’s our YouTube playlist your video will appear on.

And here’s the YouTube account page.

Planning steps forward regarding Netflix accessibility

In the days that this blog has not been updating, a lot has been happening behind the scenes regarding Netflix, and even accessible Netflix alternatives.

On the Netflix side, we’re planning the next step. We are not twiddling our thumbs on this. Something will definitely happen this year, even if it’s news or meetings, but for now, everyone is putting our heads to the test as we carefully work out what the next action will be.

Since we’re still planning, contemplating, strategically wondering, we need help from our community. There’s a lot of ways that our community can help us. Everything helps a little.

In other news, I, Robert Kingett, have been interviewed by insight Radio about TalkingFlix, the new audio description on demand service.

TalkingFlix was made with love by the people at Crossway Media Solutions. Check out the Champions of TalkingFlix, mainly, me, or visit their corporate website for details about the team.

Crossway Media Solutions provides an online entertainment service for visually impaired consumers and develops cutting-edge products for the accessibility industry. With an aim of connecting visually impaired and sighted consumers in a shared social experience of enjoying entertainment content together, TalkingFlix narrows the divide between two worlds.

Since I’m an advisor for the people behind TalkingFlix, I voluntarily test out the site, and also provide suggestions based on trends or market niches I’ve seen as a consumer as well as a journalist.

And oh my god! Insight Radio did an interview with me! The interview took place on Skype, and it will go live on the air at March 4, at 12:45 PM Chicago time. The UK lives in the future so I’m guessing this will be at night for the folks over there. When this becomes available as a podcast, a link will be provided below and in the media section of the accessible Netflix project website.

share your thoughts about Netflix accessibility on our blog

=hi all. Big updates with audio description and accessible interfaces on the web, including Netflix are on the way. We, however, don’t want to report on any unconfirmed actions or rumors. We’re working very hard behind the scenes. We have some big events happening soon. Help from you would definitely help us in many ways.

We’re opening up this blog to write about your accessibility and or audio description wishes and experiences. This is your chance to tell the world how audio description in a digital age is as well as how wonderful audio description on the few websites that have audio description has enhanced your surfing. This is also your chance to explain your point of view regarding Netflix accessibility.

The blogs can be as long or as short as you wish. If you want to talk about your audio description wishes or experiences as well as give commentary on accessibility, please fill out the form below.

Be sure to include a bio in third person, not first person, which we can include at the end of your blog posts. You may specify a link to a website or blog that we can share at the bottom.

It’s highly recommended that you type your blog post in a word processor and then copy and paste it here. We will edit for spelling and grammar. If the errors are excessive we will ask you to re write the blog post.

Help us advocate for accessibility & audio description on demand.

Hi all. since things are a bit slow on the update front I’d like to ask for your help, the viewers, readers, supporters, and followers by asking Video On Demand services, such as Netflix and Hulu, to provide audio description and accessibility improvements, if applicable, for their streaming services. Elbow you will find various numbers and links to contact these companies. If you can help us make some contacts that we haven’t been able to make in any of the below, that’s super! So, with the strength of the blind and visually impaired community let’s make described TV shows and movies a regular in the on demand age! Let us know what happens by sending us an email.

NOTE. This list will update so check back often!

VUDU.

2980 Bowers Avenue

Santa Clara, CA 95051

United States

Founded in 2004

Phone: 408-492-1010

Fax: 408-588-4080

http://www.vudu.com.

HULU.

12312 West Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90064 United States

Phone: 310-571-4700

Fax: 310-571-4701

NETFLIX.

100 Winchester Circle Los Gatos CA 95032

Netflix corporate phone number: (408) 540-3700

Main number to offices. 1 408 540 3700

Redbox.

Redbox Corporate Office & Headquarters 1 Tower Lane Suite 1200 Oakbrook Terrace IL 60187

Redbox corporate phone number:

(630) 756-8000

Amazon Corporate Office & Headquarters

410 Terry Avenue North Seattle WA 98109

Amazon corporate phone number:

(206) 266-1000

APPLE. Main contact we page.

http://www.apple.com/contact/

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has read our negotiation letter but will not reply

Hi all! We have good news to report! Our Netflix letter detailing accessibility concerns with an invitation to start a constructive dialogue has even read by the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, has been read today! I have the read receipt and everything, which I won’t post here because it contains his email but I will include the rest of the receipt including my lovely signature below.

Your message

To: Reed Hastings

Subject: Re: letter?

Sent: Friday, December 06, 2013 2:40:56 PM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)

was read on Friday, December 06, 2013 4:15:39 PM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada).

This is beyond epic! The first time that we have sent the letter into him he didn’t get it so he asked us to send it again.

For those readers who don’t know what letter we are talking about click the hyperlink above. for those who can’t see hyperlinks for whatever reason the URL to the post about the letter will be below.

This has been a wonderful day so far and now that Reed is reading our letter it will open many doors to solutions to accessibility collaboration and solutions. This is really good, and this means that changes are definitely happening. They may not happen fast but they are happening and that’s the important thing. Stay tuned for updates.

Here’s the link to the post about the letter. https://netflixproject.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/a-positive-step-forward-regarding-voices-of-accessibility/

He has not replied at all. We will update this page if he replies

A positive step forward regarding voices of accessibility

It’s been a while since we’ve had updates but I’m here to report some big steps forward!

Although we have been quiet, we have been working behind the scenes to connect with other organizations who share our concerns. We have been working with the Description Leadership Network (DLN) — a coalition of description and video-accessibility stakeholder organizations that includes the American Council of the blind, the American Foundation for the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind, and many others.

The Description Leadership Network is seeking to open a dialog with Netflix regarding accessibility of their services for blind customers.

Dr. Joshua A. Miele, Founder and Corresponding Secretary of The Description Leadership Network, is coordinating the effort to engage with Netflix on a variety of accessibility issues faced by blind Netflix customers.

In late September, Dr. Miele sent a letter to Reed Hastings offering to help organize a meeting that would include Netflix representatives, DLN members, the Accessible Netflix Project, and other important media-accessibility stakeholders. We will let you know when we hear back from them.

Thank you to everyone involved, and our very passionate partners, followers, and fellow Netflix lovers. With this move we hope to contribute to a dialogue that will benefit everyone! Stay tuned for more updates.

Progress with Netflix, Audio description, and even Hulu

Hi all! I’m just making a quick post to detail that some things behind the scenes are taking place with audio description and Netflix.

However, because of our efforts, other people like the ACB are collaborating ideas to fix the audio description online issue, so it looks like we definitely got some heads turning and thoughts clinking into new directions.

A far as Netflix goes, we are still working very hard to work out solutions. Thought we may be quiet on the blog, we’re definitely making stuff happen so stay tuned because big news is  on the way along with ideas!

The good thing is that Hulu have also seen our project and they sent me a quick email asking how audio description can be done. I didn’t have any on demand services in the United States so I pointed them to the RNIB.

Future Family Guy with audio description can’t happen on Netflix

I have finally received a definitive answer regarding the TV show Family Guy and video description. I won’t say anything in regards; I will just paste the email that I have received just now.

Hi Robert,

I have a few more answers for you regarding video description. This is from memory from a phone conversation earlier this morning; a few details may be left out.

ITunes is the only streaming service that currently has the option for video description, but only for a few movies. It is a separate section that just has the audio files for a reduced cost. Other streaming services like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc… Do not support video description at this time. Since file delivery workflow is essentially the same for each service, they won’t institute a new policy unless all services are in agreement, or if they are required by law (like broadcast).

Syndication is apparently interested in including video description with their deliveries. As I mentioned before, I believe Modern Family was a test case. They will be looking to implement this next year (March) for Season 11. They will not go back to revise files for previous seasons.

I admit, this is definitely a huge bummer, but I did immediately write her back and asked her what about putting them on iTunes? Even though I definitely have a bias hatred for iTunes with every bone in my body it still could be the shining beacon of example that tells other companies “look, you should be doing this too!” what do you think about this new founding with audio description? Let us know in the comments!

Help us contact studios about audio description on Netflix

Hi all. Here’s what we’ve been doing since we have been quiet. Since Netflix has said no to us regarding audio description even though Fox will give all future described episodes to Netflix, We’ve been trying to get studios that provide audio description on DVDs and TV shows to give those files to Netflix for free. We’re having a difficult time obtaining studio contacts so this is where we ask our readers to assist. Here’s how.

In the navigation bar there will be two links that point to TV stations and studio contact information. Below we will provide the movie studios that provide audio description on most of their DVDs. use the links above to contact studios on our behalf. The more, the mariner. If you’re unable to navigate to the links, we will provide the studio contact information below but not the TV stations contact info, as that is always changing and we won’t have time to continuously visit the link above.

Below will be the studios and their contact information. Unfortunately we could not obtain emails easily so we will also provide the website as well as phone number and physical address.

If possible, try to mention a DVD that has both audio description and is also available on Netflix or other streaming services such as Hulu and Amazon Instant and RedBox. Say that you want to have audio description on streaming as well. Thank you!

Disney / Pixar / Buena Vista

500 S. Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA 91521

818-560-1000

Fox

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

10201 W. Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90035

310-369-1000

www.foxmovies.com

Paramount

Paramount Pictures Corporation

5555 Melrose Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90038

323-956-5000

Sony

Sony Pictures Entertainment

10202 W. Washington Blvd

Culver City, CA 90232

310-244-4000

Universal.

Universal Pictures

100 Universal City Plazas

Universal City, CA 91608

818-777-1000

The How To Be Blind podcast talks about the Accessible Netflix Project

We have been getting interview requests left and right and we’re very proud to share them with you all today, well, one of them anyway. More will come shortly!

The How to Be Blind podcast featured us on their extras feature? The link will be below and it will also appear in the press link in the navigation bar at the top of our website. Thank you for the interview!

Here’s the link. http://htb2.com/2013/09/htb2-extra-the-accessible-netflix-project/

Movies and recorded TV on the PS3 have audio description. Why can’t anyone else?

This is a neat feature that I found one day while fiddling with someone’s PlayStation 3. If you get a movie in the play station movie store or the PlayStation instant movie queue, one of the audio language tracks is the audio description track found on the DVD. If you’re legally blind and you have a PS3 and you know what DVD has audio description you can select that as an option on all PlayStation three systems. You have to purchase the on demand movie from the Sony store though, Hulu, Netflix, etc., won’t have the audio description.

NOTE: the track will not be called audio description. You have to cycle through all the English language tracks.

You can also watch described TV shows via the PS3 play TV. Apparently, it only works on RECORDED TV shows, not live TV shows. I’ve never used the application myself but a reader said it was possible.

If a video game system and distribution company can have audio described movies then why can’t Netflix and Hulu? Now I wish I had a PlayStation three of my own! Just a small audio description news tip for those visually impaired or legally blind who have a PlayStation 3. Thank you!

Netflix says don’t expect audio description anytime soon

Hi all! I’m bringing you an update that contains bad news for the blind and the visually impaired community, but first, for the people who are just signing up, I’ll I’ve a brief recap about what we have been doing.

In short, we have been contacting TV show distributers and producers as well in movie companies and broadcast networks such as fox and Sony. Things are still working out with Sony but fox has agreed to give all future Family Guy episodes to Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t want to have them… at all.

I replied with this email below. Their response to my telling them that Fox was going to do this is below my email to them. Below is my response to them.

If the producers are willing to provide the needed audio description files to you free for all future episodes then all your programming and design team would need to do is find out how to make the audio description available in the languages menu of the streaming player. I’m sure this wouldn’t be hard to do, but thank you for the reply.

And here is the reply that they have sent me when I told them that future Family Guy episodes were going to be made to them, free, no less. Every audio description that’s produced will be available to Netflix dealing with the Family Guy TV show.

Hi Robert,

Thank you for being a Netflix fan and for being so passionate about making Netflix more accessible. At this point we have no immediate plans to add audio descriptions to our service. We continuously evaluate this and we will let you know if there’s a change, but don’t expect it to come in the near future.

Well, looks like its back to the drawing board. I wonder if Hulu will be more open to adding audio description. I’ll try some other people at Netflix. That was just only one person.

Future Family Guy episodes with audio description available to Netflix.

Hi all! I have great news! I don’t know how to move forward with it though. Ever since I’ve been contacting studios, I’ve been getting distributers on the Netflix discussion as well. It took some time to do, but I finally got a reply and it looks like a good one! My nameless contact said they’re moving forward with family guy and having new shows, not old shows, and new shows with audio description on Netflix. What this means is, that Netflix will have access to the files. I’ve sent that email that I have received, but to be honest, I don’t know what to do if Netflix says no about the audio description. What do we do AIF they say no, what will be our next course of action? I’ve forwarded that email to all my contacts at Netflix. I won’t stop until this is resolved! I’m forbidden from sharing the email with others, but I definitely hope this summary is enough. Sorry everyone, but I understand why my sources want to keep hidden. Don’t you? Just know that the email has been saved in my drop box.

Plans happening behind the scenes with on demand audio description.

Hi there folks! I just want to stop in and say that even though we don’t report everything that we do, either on this blog or our own personal ones, we’re always communicating, always moving forward with something and developing new ideas, and making our old ones solid as stone if they’re useful. I hate to sound like one of those mean people in the big media industries who dangle yummy looking candy under your nose, and ask you to jump very high and hold your breath until it drops, but we simply can’t report on everything that we know or what we are doing. While this is a community driven project sometimes our contacts demand with specific requests of not to share ideas or information, and thus we really like what we hear and want to keep them happy and not flood their email inbox with a billion questions and then draw their attention away from their intension. Did that make sense? I hope it did. To everyone, please be patient. Yes, we’re keeping stuff hidden for a reason. Developers and many other people in the media industry have ordered it. Not requested, ordered it. I understand where their coming from, frankly, and right now, I agree, but there will come a time when I will share whatever happens, when we make some headway with a few things. I believe in keeping you informed but I hope you understand where I’m coming from. Besides, it’s respect so I’m gonna keep whatever secrets I have to, and that goes for my team members as well. I seriously hope I’m not sounding as if I’m attacking someone but I just want to let people understand that we are working very hard even if we don’t share what we are doing. That wouldn’t be fair at all, by the way to just keep everyone in the dark forever, so we will tell when the time is right. I do have one thing to add though; personally, don’t send an email with all caps, shouting at me. It hurts my eye, not my ego.

Producers say yes to audio description on Netflix.

it’s quite an astonishing feat at what information you find out when you actually dig deep into something and do a tad bit of investigating. Way back, Netflix had made a valiant case that it wasn’t up to them to produce the audio description track for TV shows and movies, and that they couldn’t legally do anything with the content because they didn’t hold any of the rights to the content that has audio description tracks, and that would need to be taken up with the media producers of the TV show. They are correct, but I wondered if they thought I was going to drop it at that. I didn’t. I decided to find out for myself just how much Netflix holds in terms of decisions.

The search, hunting, and getting the right contacts took me forever to do. First I had to try and find a show that had audio description on TV, and then I had to check and see if that show was on Netflix. I didn’t want to do a show that didn’t have audio description on Netflix, nor do a show that had audio description on TV but wasn’t on Netflix because then the response would take even longer because they’d have to work out licensing and the like, and, since they wouldn’t have audio description then that would add another complication to the mix explaining what audio description is.

With that in mind, I knew that finding a TV show that had audio description, and aired on both TV and Netflix was the easiest method to go that would definitely get me an answer, either way.

Finding that show, though, was easier said than done. With a WordPad document open and NVDA turned off, I looked through every entry in the audio description project listing only to find out that a few were on Netflix, and even then I may have missed some. The research took me an hour to complete on that end.

Once I had the shows, I needed to find the creator, also known as producer of the show. That swallowed up an additional two hours of my time because not everything wasn’t on Wikipedia.

With the shows Family Guy, The Office, Glee, and others in mind, I set out to find some contact information. This was the hardest of all, taking up two days to do, after repeat attempts, mind you, but I will get to that later.

Naturally, I started off by calling corporate offices of networks like FOX, NBC, etc. in most cases; a generic operator couldn’t transfer me, nor give me emails, nor give me phone numbers. Some didn’t have it in their database, others weren’t allowed, and others kept giving me a generic email, which I didn’t want to, have. I called for a specific reason and that reason was to get answers.

I tried sounding as business as possible but I guess when you have a stutter; many don’t take you seriously or think you’ve fallen very high and hit your head. Some operators cut me off, hanging up on me, leaving me no choice but to call using the IP relay service where I was hung up on for yet another day and a half. Usually when I call with the IP relay service, people on the other end have to speak slower. They’ve disabled the option for me to place HCO calls, hearing carry over, where I hear everything the other person is saying. I don’t know why they discontinued that feature, but now I have to use the IP relay service just like a deaf person. I’m just a person with a speech disability but TV station operators think it’s a scam, and they hang up on me, or speak too fast and then they hang up on me, again.

The third day, I have managed to get someone who’s in charge of Family guy, out of all 56 calls I have made, I had only one lead and so I followed up accordingly. She wishes to remain nameless, and she didn’t give me permission to copy her email, but she said that yes, Seth did have the rights to the show, hence, he negotiates licenses. I explained my result with Netflix, and explained my situation via email, as that’s my best mode of communication. She actually was surprised that it didn’t have audio description on Netflix, and she wondered why. Just to make things better on myself, I forwarded her the email sent by Netflix staff. She immediately responded with a urgency to push this Netflix woman, and explain that this show is on TV with audio description already, and make it very clear that the audio description has been produced, and also make it VERY clear that they’d be more than happy to license, or anything else to help. So, I sent the Netflix staff this email.

Hi XXX. This is Robert Kingett again. Recently I sent you an email about the availability of audio description on instant streaming services. You pointed out that it’s up to the producers to provide audio description. There are already shows on TV and movies with audio description, and who are willing to provide the audio description to Netflix. Family Guy, a show that is both on Netflix and on TV, offers described episodes after season 10. Since Family Guy offers audio description on TV already, I’d like to know how Netflix would work with the producer of the show to also provide audio description for instant streaming. Family Guy airs on FOX with audio description. Knowing this, how can we move forward in regards to providing audio description on instant streaming? Since the producers are providing audio description on TV already isn’t it up to Netflix to negotiate audio description on their systems and services if the audio description is already provided for other mediums the show airs on?

The reply that I received was that, in that case, FOX holds the control over the audio description, not the producers, since the audio description is produced. FOX airs the show bundled with the audio description so the producers wouldn’t have any say so. Just to check her facts, I emailed 13 other Netflix email addresses I had collected. No response shot into my inbox from any of them, and it has been a week since the last email. Since FOX airs the show, they have all the rights, so I’d need to talk to someone at FOX. She didn’t even give me a name of any sort. I didn’t want to be treated like a joke anymore, so I contacted my Family Guy contact who told me that she’d look, and dig, and find out who I’d need to speak to and she promised that she would give me a direct contact, even number. So, I guess now we just wait on the big reveal. I don’t know when that will happen but I’m sure it won’t be far off before I have a definitive answer. At least someone is taking me seriously, but with very few leads, the worry is mounting. Will my efforts be in vein? I hope not. I do wish though, that I had someone helping me make these calls. People really don’t like IP relay but what other options do I have?

The good news, we’ve learned something, the bad, we need to learn more about the vast world of licensing. We will keep looking, however.

A direct response from Netflix regarding audio description on streaming content

Hi all,

Thank you for sharing additional information with Tracy and I, we appreciate the advice and recommendations you’re sending along. It’s helpful to learn the choices that are exist and are evolving in the marketplace. As a note, I’m sure you’re aware that creating the audio descriptive files rests with the creators of the content – usually studios or networks, potentially independent producers. The content creators hold the copyright to the underlying material and therefore the right to create AD, and Netflix simply licenses their content, so they would need to take the initiative to create and then also license audio description for Netflix to then offer it to subscribers.
We appreciate the continued information, and are working to stay informed, and we hope you continue to work with the studios and content owners to create audio description for all content they are licensing in the online marketplace, whether for streaming or download. Thanks again,
Elizabeth Bradley
And below is just a snippet of negotiation we have tried to make with Netflix. I won’t even include the responses from the audio description companies in the United States because the post would be really huge!
On Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 7:45 AM, Paton, John RNIB wrote:

Thanks Robert,

Dear Tracy,

I’m John Paton and I work in the Digital Media and Culture team at RNIB, the largest UK charity for blind and partially sighted people. One of my areas of work is to try to encourage audio description on Video on Demand services such as Netflix. To that end we work with service providers and participate in the ATVOD (Authority for TV on Demand) access services working party. Despite being a UK regulatory body ATVOD has no power to compel and so rather than informing regulation the discussion revolves around sharing best practice and learning opportunities to ensure that making content accessible is as unburdensome as possible for service providers.

We would be very interested in having a discussion with Netflix about your plans for providing audio description on your service and would be happy to sign an NDA to ensure confidentiality. We have worked under NDA with companies very successfully in the past and that was how we managed to bring the Panasonic Voice Guidance feature and TVonics talking features to market alongside the respective industry partners greatly improving the accessibility of the television market in the UK. We are also keen to advertise accessible solutions to our members through our magazine, website, social media channels and radio station and I look forward to being able to announce the first fully accessible non-catchup Video on Demand service.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

John Paton

Netflix and audio described DVDs.

Here are a lot of rumors floating around that Netflix doesn’t offer described DVDs. They do offer them but you’d never know they were described because they don’t even list the audio tracks, or the subtitle information on the website.

By the way, Netflix has no accessibility information on its website up front. You’ll have to turn to Google to dig deep into the blog posts in order to get information.

Every DVD that’s made today has subtitles and closed captioning for the deaf but few DVDs have audio description for the blind and the visually impaired.

Netflix carries these DVDs which users can rent. As noted above, if you’re just looking on the Netflix website, you’d never know which DVDs have audio description because there’s no information like that on the website and in the catalog when searching for a movie.

Instead, you’ll have to go to http://www.acb.org/adp/dvds.html and find the title there then go back to Netflix and select the titles.

As an alternative, if you don’t want to place online orders you can call them or have them call you.

Phone Number. 888-638-3549   or 1-866-579-7172

Talk to a Human. Press zero at each prompt.

You can also chat with them online. https://contactus.netflix.com/help

Hit start live chat link.

You can also have them call you back.

You can go back to what you were doing, and avoid the waiting on hold on the phone. We’ll do the waiting for you.

1: Enter Your Number

Two: They Call in Minutes

Get back to what you’re doing Netflix will call you back soon.

Three: That’s It! Try and See!

Netflix says “no” to audio description.

Recently I tried contacting Netflix in regard for audio description. Needless to say that getting an email address was complete guesswork. I had to guess what the email format was and then try some random name’s that I found on a website, because, quite frankly, the operator said she couldn’t give them out when I called their corporate office

When I finally got an email address, I emailed. I’m not going to post it here because I don’t want to give away private information but I asked about Netflix having audio description.

In short, they can’t do audio description because not all platforms and devices would even support it and when I tried to reply with some folks from the RNIB they even told her, Elizabeth, how they have audio description on the web.

She didn’t reply, even after a few more emails.