How cool is this? Not only do the folks working with the James Webb Telescope images want to make theses incredible images accessible to everyone, they’ve actually taken steps to do so! You can listen to the less than 2 minute NPR story “Alt text helps the visually impaired experience the James Webb Telescope images” here: https://one.npr.org/i/1112878868:1112878869
I am thrilled to share news of an accessible event at the Wexner Center for the Arts. As this is a blog about audio description, I’d like to point out the audio described version of the event is available for streaming this week. All of the details are below in the email I received from Helyn Marshall. Kudos to Helyn and the staff at the Wexner for their attempts to make art truly available to everyone!
Here are all the details as outlined in Helyn’s email:
Dear Accessibility Professionals, Practitioners, and Friends,
I am writing to share some fast-breaking news on the accessibility front for Film/Video offerings at the Wex!
Starting tonight, we’re showing the new documentary film Her Socialist Smile, which shares Helen Keller’s work as one of the most passionate activists and advocates of her time, including an open captioned, in-person screening at 7pm on Wednesday, September 22.
In an exciting example of the continued expansion of our accessibility efforts, we are also streaming the Audio Descriptive Version of Her Socialist Smile (which the Wex provided seed money for the creation of the AD Track) for one week only, beginning today.
Here’s a neat blog article Expanding access for Her Socialist Smile written by Chris Stults, Associate Film/Video Curator for the Wex, that shares how he found the film and its director, and helped to line up the support for the creation of an AD version of the film, which we are so happy to be able to share on our site with descriptive transcript available, in a pay-what-you-can model for greater accessibility for all.
This all very literally just came together yesterday; apologies that I couldn’t share with a little more notice, but I would so appreciate it if you could give this film a signal boost via social media or through your networks. Her Socialist Smile is a beautiful documentary and something that I’m really pleased the Wex could help support expanded access to.
Digital Accessibility Coordinator
wexner center for the arts
Pronouns: she/her/hers | Why Pronouns Matter
In honor of the second annual Audio Description Awareness Day (April 16th) — I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you a post from the Audio Description Project (ADP) Listserv that was written by Fred Brack, the ADP Webmaster and Social Media Manager. For those of you who may never have heard of the Audio Description Project, it is an initiative of the American Council of the Blind and repository (and sometimes a catalyst) for all things audio description. Fred does a stellar job and you can check out the website here or use this URL: https://www.acb.org/adp/.
Fred’s post is about letting the FCC know what changes you would like to see to the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. So let’s celebrate our awareness of audio description by taking action!
The FCC Wants to Know What Changes You Want to the CVAA
(Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act)
As requested in this FCC Public Notice, the FCC would like to know what changes you feel are required in the 10-year old CVAA. “Given changes in technology and industry practices, as well as taking into account consumer experiences, we seek comment on whether there is a need to update these rules.” For example, we at the ADP suggest you consider the following. Are enough shows described today on TV? Are enough non-broadcast networks (USA, TBS, etc.) covered? Are enough regions of the country covered? Are cable TV providers able to supply the right equipment and answer your questions about AD? Are you satisfied with the quantity and quality of audio description provided?
How about the streaming services? The ACB has had to initiate legal action in many cases to get streaming companies to provide description. Should the FCC mandate it for streamers of a certain size or type of content? And once an audio description track is created, should there be some requirement that it must be passed along just like closed captioning is to any other service that picks up the show for rebroadcast? These are just some of the things you should be thinking about. And don’t simply rely upon someone else to voice these comments. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Historically, few blind or low vision individuals have replied to these Requests for Comment, which does not reflect well on the needs and desires of individuals with visual impairment.
How do you submit your comments to the FCC? Here is the simplified process:
- Write your comments in a Word document, PDF, or plain text file.
- Go to this web address: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings.
- Type the Proceeding Number in the first box: 21-140 and press Enter.
- The following fields are required on the form as you tab down: Name(s); Primary Contact Email; Address Of (use “Filer” or “Author”); Address, City, State, Zip.
- At that point, the next field says to “Click or drop files here.” You should be able to click to select your prepared comments, or drag and drop if you prefer.
- Click the box to receive an email confirmation of your submission.
- Finally you will click the button to “Continue to the Review Screen.” (We haven’t done this yet, so we hope it is obvious from here on!)
There is an alternative. If you want to type your comments directly, use this web address: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express. The form is similar and slightly shorter, and you could cut-and-paste your comments into the Comment block if you wish. As a last resort, you can send your comments to this address: FCC504@fcc.gov. In each case, remember that the Proceeding Number is 21-140. DO IT NOW!
Fred Brack, email@example.com
ADP Webmaster and Social Media Manager
The Audio Description Project is an initiative of the American Council of the Blind
Two years ago today, I launched this blog. Today is also Helen Keller’s birthday, so Helen Keller and I have at least one thing in common. In honor of the anniversary of Helen Keller’s birth and this blog, here is an encore of my second blog entry (posted two years ago tomorrow):
Happy Birthday Helen Keller: June 27, 1880
Above is a 1955 black and white photograph of Helen Keller, on her 75th birthday, assisted by Polly Thomson (secretary and companion) serving birthday cake.
In this black and white photograph, two older women stand shoulder to shoulder behind a lace covered table. On the table is a three-tiered cake decorated with icing flowers and swags and a single small slender lit candle. A stack of small plates with dark patterned rims sits to the left of the cake.
The woman on the left, Helen Keller, is a few inches taller than the woman on the right. Her face is cast slightly downwards. Her eyes are open yet her gaze is not fixed upon anything within the picture frame. Her is mouth opened in a smile. Helen’s dark wavy hair is parted on the left and pulled back from her face. Short waves of whiter hair flanking the part frame her face. Her light-colored damask, short-sleeved dress has a V-shaped neckline that is both wide and deep. It covers her shoulders and dips down to just above her breasts. She wears a triple strand of round white pearls around the base of her neck. Her right arm, bent at the elbow, reaches forward slightly as the broad bladed cake knife in her right hand poises between icing flowers atop the cake, its tip just behind the lone birthday candle. The knife obscures the writing on the far side of the candle but two words, one above the other, are visible on the near side: Birthday Helen.
The woman on the right, Polly Thomson, is wearing a darker dress of the same style and similar fabric except for the sleeves on which are fuller and pouf out at the banded cuff just above the elbow. Her hair is darker than Helen’s and is also worn in waves pulled off the face and parted on the left. With her chin tucked in, Polly’s head tips down toward the cake. Her downcast eyes direct our attention to the cake and the four hands of the women.
Both of Polly’s arms are held in towards her body and are bent at the elbows. Her right arm crosses in front of Helen’s left arm, seen just between the two women’s bodies and below Polly’s right elbow. Polly’s right hand reaches across Helen’s waist as she holds, her fingers gently grasping, the top of Helen’s right hand as Helen cuts the cake. Polly’s lower left arm crosses her body as she loosely holds Helen’s left hand in hers.
The touching right hands and forearms of the women create a V shape at Helen’s waistline, above and to the left of the cake. Their touching left hands and forearms create a smaller V shape, echoing the first, at Polly’s waistline. The down-turned heads and points of the V that are created by the hands direct our attention to the cake.
In the background on the left, behind Helen’s right shoulder, is a candle in a wall sconce. To the right of the sconce, we see the top left corner of the narrow black frame of a picture or document, the glare from the flash bulb obscuring its contents. In the lower left, below Helen’s right elbow the upper left of the dark wooden frame of a shield-backed chair is seen. Between the women and behind Polly on the right, are indistinct dark shadowy shapes resulting from the photographer’s flash.
As you probably know, Google highlights all sorts of interesting things with the artwork known as the Google Doodle at the top of their search page. Today’s animation (seen below) celebrates Seiichi Miyake, the Japanese inventor of the Tenji block — those blocks that have raised bars and bumps and create detectable warnings on the sidewalk, train platforms, etc. When you click on the animation, you are taken to a page that has stories from all over about Seiichi Miyake and his bumpy Tenji blocks.
Here is a description of today’s doodle:
A grey curb runs diagonally from the upper left corner to the center of the wide rectangular picture frame. A small area of dark grey, almost black, street with part of a white bar from a striped crosswalk is visible in the lower left corner of the image. On the other side of the curb are two rows of square yellow paving blocks with raised bumps. Beyond these pavers is a dark grey sidewalk. The grid of the sidewalk is interrupted a path of more yellow paving blocks. These yellow blocks have raised bars and are perpendicular to the swath of blocks with the bumps along the curb. The white ball and red tip of a white cane appears in the upper right corner of the image. As the cane sweeps from left to right, it is followed by a pair of feet wearing black sneakers with rounded white capped toes and laces. The feet, at the bottom of jeans-clad legs, approach the intersection of the blocks with the raised bars and the blocks with the raised dots. The cane continues to sweep back and forth as it points to the blue, red, ochre, and green letters that spell “GOOGLE” along the curb-side edge of the dotted blocks. As the feet meet and stop at the intersection of the blocks, the tip of the cane comes rest between their toes.
Last month, I had the opportunity to join co-hosts Marlene Brisk, Elizabeth Clark on and fellow guests Shirley Roberts and Chuck Adkins on “Morning Exchange” on VOICEcorps radio to discuss audio description. The show, which originally aired on September 28th, is now available to listen to on demand. No subscription is necessary to stream live or on demand audio.
If you are not familiar with VOICEcorps, you should check out their website. It’s a great resource for anyone with low or no vision.
A black and white photograph of a crested porcupine against a white background.
The porcupine is seen head-on. Its small, lowered, V-shaped head is framed by its circular torso that is supported by its two stocky, short front legs. The legs are directly below the head and are close together with a small square of light between them. There are four digits upon each foot. The porcupine’s long black and white quills bristle out and upward from its circular torso, past its forelegs, like the bristles of a half-round hairbrush. The quills are as long as the porcupine is tall. Each quill is banded in stripes of black and white. Long white quills stand up along the top of its head. The rest of its torso is covered by short dark bristles.
The dark figure of the porcupine stands out vividly from the stark white background. The only shadow is a short black line between the bottoms of its two front paws. The long black and white needle-like quills create a staccato halo upon its back.
Information about the film itself, including trailers with audio description, is available at the Guide Dogs for the Blind website.
See you at the movies!
On this day two hundred and eight years ago Louis Braille, the man responsible for devising the system that bears his name of six dots to a cell for each letter of the alphabet, was born in a small village in France. But did you know that he was only a teenager when he did this groundbreaking work? The link below is to a half hour audio described and captioned docudrama video about Louis Braille: