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

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.

 

Team member spotlight: Tanja Milojevic

My name is Tanja Milojevic and I was born in Serbia as a premature baby. I had retinal detachment as a result of the incubators and was diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity. I then had several surgeries on both eyes to restore some vision which were partially successful. These surgeries took place in the United States.

I permanently came to live in the US at the age of five when I was diagnosed with open and close angled Glaucoma in both eyes. My medical visa helped me make a permanent home with my family near Boston where I began my main stream public education.

I went through some struggle with the school system through the years but I was mostly a dual learner, both visual and tactual which meant that I relied on both braille and extremely large print on a closed circuit television.

As the years went on, I brought more and more of my close family to the US where we continued to live. I learned English and Braille to a better degree and picked up technology like the PC and braille light. Math and the visual sciences game me trouble but my braille teachers assisted me enough so that I could get by with A’s and B’s My family was pushy for me to get good grades. I’m still like that today. I like to be almost perfect if not perfect.

High school rolled around and I continued to push through school and I continued to push through school. I met other peers who were blind and had some friends in the blind world and not so much in the sited world. I had trouble fitting in. I enjoyed my O&M instructors and learned more and more about traveling independently. I found colleges that interested me and did better in subjects like English and Psychology than Math and Physics. That lead me into getting a few scholarships from my school and brought me to the end of that four years. I took part in my choir from fourth grade and to the end of high school. I’d continue it for another two years in undergrad as well.

I then moved on to Simmons College where I enjoyed the disabilities’ department and was able to be a strong advocate for myself and other students who needed someone to talk to. I had begun to listen to described movies and radio dramas back in high school and only found new ways to do so in college. I began to successfully make my own radio dramas and post them to a website. Www.lightningbolt.podbean.com I called my show “Lightningbolt Theater of the Mind.” It was a good social networking place. I joined the school radio station and chorus, and moved from my dorm, to an apartment, and to home. I got my guide dog Wendell just before entering College. He is from the Seeing Eye and is a golden lab who is now eight. He has brown ears and yellow fur. He sheds a lot but is friendly and loves to lick and get belly rubs. I graduated with a BA in English and I minored in Radio communications and special education moderate disabilities.

I then moved on to UMass Boston where I am a graduate student currently working to get my license to be a teacher of the visually impaired. I have completed my course work and am now working on my state testing and then practicum before getting my MA. I am describing content that wasn’t available on descriptive such as the old doctor who episodes from the sixties. Those are not available to the public and I feel like they should be. I am using the series transcripts from on line to be able to know what’s going on and to then have the ability to put the descriptive track in the right place.

For technology, I use jaws, the IPhone, a braille note empower which I got after height school, and I am considering getting an iPad or a mac. I use a blue bird microphone and gold wave as my audio editing software. I’m also learning reaper.

I am an advocate, that is why I’m here. I enjoy seeing the law followed. Everyone else can access Netflix. The deaf and hard of hearing have the ability to watch closed captioning. Why can we not access the description that is mandated by the FCC each year? We are paying for a net flicks membership each month. It would only make sense for this to be the case. Network television is too confusion to try to figure out. I want to help change happen.

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!

Guest blog post: Toni Bader

For the past fifteen years I have been part of a group of Audio Describers that offer our services for the visually handicapped to various live theaters in Indianapolis.  During that time, both the number of participating theaters and the pool of AD presenters have dwindled. I am working with the Indiana Repertory Theater to reverse that trend and hopefully we will increase our audience, the theaters that offer AD, and train more Describers for our market.
In the meantime, the offer of AD for movies is incredibly necessary but uncommonly convoluted.  Sometimes you can find it on Netflix, sometimes not.  Sometimes it is listed on the DVD packaging, and sometimes, even with the listing, it is impossible to find and use.
Netflix is the most familiar business that offers movies online.  To accommodate the wide audience of the non-seeing audience, they ought to be aware of the need, especially after months and years of letter writing campaigns.
The ball of who/which company is responsible for providing this service keeps getting bounced from one source to another with no resolution and little accomplished.  It sounds as if, despite government regulation for television (also often hard to find and use), the movie industry is slow to respond to ‘viewer’ demand.
I hope that soon we will be able to find movies that are not only available for visual enjoyment but audio as well.
Toni Bader
Audio Describer
Indianapolis IN

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.

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.

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/