For those of you unfamiliar with audio description (known to its friends as AD), well, if you went to the movies or watched TV with someone who was blind or had a vision impairment, what would you do? You'd tell them what was happening onscreen, right? (Braving the frowns of your fellow cinema-goers.) Audio description is a professional version of that. What makes it professional? ADers don't talk over important dialogue, sound effects or music. Plus they've already watched the whole movie, so they know that the fact the third man on the left is wearing a hat is vitally important to the plot, so they will include him in the AD. (There often ain't much time for AD so they have to be choosy) But they will never give away plot points or surprises.
Anyhoo, in Australia AD can be found in some cinemas, DVDs and blu-rays, theatre performances, and on some internet videos. But it can't be found on TV. Boo! Hiss! New Zealand has had audio described television since 2011! A lot of Australian TV shows have been audio described for their DVD and blu-ray release, so at least folks with a vision impairment can watch them there, right? Well…hmmm…not really. The problem is to turn on the disc's audio description you have to navigate at least two menus, which is kinda hard to do if you can't see the screen well/at all. (SIGHS)
Ideally, blu-rays and DVDs would have a talking menu option - when you click to a button, it would tell you its function, eg, a voice would say, "Play movie" or "Special features". Even a single talking button on all DVD and blu-ray main menus that said "Play movie with audio description" would be awesome. If you want to check out a talking menu, the 'Doctor Who' series two box set has all the bells and whistles. But most DVDs and blu-rays don't. Maybe they will in the future. Or hopefully all internet releases of film and TV will include AD as an easily accessible option.
But what about all the DVDs and blu-rays that have already been released sans talking menus? Well, this is where I can help out. I'm compiling a list of instructions on how to turn on the AD on DVDs and blu-rays. Every menu is different (and, boy, are they different) so I'll have to do each DVD and blu-ray separately. As I'm starting with my own DVD collection, the list may seem a little, er, eclectic. The list will be in alphabetical order. I'll list films and TV series separately. As the list is intended to be screen-reader friendly, there may be some format changes in response to comments by any blind or vision impaired folks who check it out.
OK, enough blabber from me, the list starts in the next post. I'll add to the list as I find time. Hopefully. If I can figure out this whole blogging thing.
PS, I probably should have mentioned, these are Region 4 DVDs - released in Australia and possibly other Region 4 areas. Also, not all films and TV shows have AD. And not all DVD or blu-ray releases of the same film have AD. For example, the original releases of The Crow, Mad Max, Phar Lap and Muriel's Wedding didn't have AD, but their anniversary re-releases do. And sometimes the DVD has AD but the blu-ray doesn't or vice versa.
Yeah, it's complicated. Sorry.