Adventures in Advocacy for Video Description

Posted by Kate on October 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm. Consumer Advisory Board, Techy, Video Description

Ah, Fall — the crisp air, leaves crunching underfoot, the change in nature’s color scheme, boots and jackets, football games, and the season premieres of my favorite TV shows and new series.   Who doesn’t love a little added humor, drama, or information in their day?  Count me in.

Watching television in my household requires some adaptations, namely captioning, as three of five of my family members are deaf/hard of hearing.  Captions are vital for our understanding and enjoyment of programming.  But I also love Video Description for those who are blind or have visual impairments.  It improves my vocabulary, draws attention to detail in the program that I might have missed, and is an overall rich sensory experience.   Just like captions allow access to media for those without hearing, Video Description is necessary for those without vision to understand and enjoy TV programming.

As I tuned in the third week of September to the prime time season premieres, I was quickly disappointed that I had no Video Description.  Not only that, but when I activated the feature through my SAP menu, I had no audio at all.  A search on-line to see if I had not activated my Video Description correctly revealed nothing.  I called my provider, Direct TV, and re-set my receiver box, but still no Description.  Customer service gave me the number for the Descriptive Video Service at Direct TV, which is a voicemail box for Captioning Services.  A nice gentleman named Charlie called me back and said he would investigate and to try it again during prime time Thursday evening.  That night was a repeat of the other two without Description and I called on Friday morning to report my results to Charlie.  His investigation revealed a transmission problem with the Descriptive Audio feed for the entire Atlanta area.  The local affiliate was diagnosing and hopefully resolving the problem.  I don’t know if the problem affected all cable providers or just mine, but it was widespread.

Week two of the Fall Season Premieres:  Monday night prime time again disappoints, and Tuesday morning I leave a message with Charlie that I now have audio through the SAP feature, but no Video Description.

And finally, as I tune in Tuesday night, I am thrilled to hear Video Description!  It is fixed!  I am grateful that I was directed to the right department and that Mr. Charlie listened, persisted, and had the resources/power to resolve the issue.

Here is what helped me in this adventure in advocacy and might help you too:

  • Identify the Problem
  • Brainstorm Solutions and Resources
  • Ask for Help
  • Practice Diligence

Happy TV watching, caption reading, and listening to Video Description!

– Michelle Rich
CaptionMax Community Advisory Board Member

1 Comment »

  1. Michelle, You ROCK! I’m going to see if audio description works on my TV. Thanks for the great post.

    Comment by Cathy | October 7, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

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