Joe Clark: Media access

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DVDs with audio description → Listings

Updated 2002.07.23

DVDs with audio description


The list that follows is split into two sections by DVD region codes: Region 1 (U.S., Canada, U.S. territories) and Region 2 (Japan, Europe, South Africa, Middle East).

Typical entries comes with a link to at least one ordering page (usually Amazon and the Internet Movie Database, which are of course the same company). Once you know the title, you can dig up other online vendors yourself. Also listed: An official site if it exists and any related sites. In many cases, the official site will not say anything about audio description but an outside reviewer will. Dates on which titles were added are given in parentheses.

If I were supersophisticated and ran this list from a database, I could offer you different ordering of your choice (alphabetical, by genre, by date added), but the order I will use is most-recently-added-first, with alphabetizing within dates.

Warning about Amazon links: I haven’t quite figured out which mojo to use to ensure that an Amazon link works forever.

Region 1

Eventually I’ll list these in reverse chronological order.

  1. Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided (known in the trade as Lincolns; 2001.10.11)
  2. Basic Instinct (2001.10.08)
  3. Dinosaur (2001.10.08)
  4. Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2001.11.21)
    • Official site
    • Press release
    • Like Lincolns, the DVD features audiovisual menus
    • Unlike Lincolns, absolutely the whole disc is described, including every single extra feature. It’s pretty sharp!
    • Treatment of description addition is rather subtle. It’s the last “special feature” listed on the case, and contains a reference to a footnote reading “This DVD includes an audible menu navigation feature that can be turned on or off from any menu screen by pressing 1 and Select/Enter on your DVD remote control.” I guess, in a fully-accessible world, full accessibility is merely one of many capacities. It is expected; it is no big deal
    • Description provider: DVS
  5. Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind (2002.03.20)
    • Press release
    • Third DVD with captioning, “subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing,” description, and audiovisual menus (The Grinch and Lincolns are the others)
    • This link may work. (There’s apparently no such thing as a permanent link at that site)
  6. Moulin Rouge (2001.12.26)
    • No mention of description at official site
    • Amazon listing has no mention of description
    • In any event, it’s there. Liner notes mention it, and it’s a menu option under “Audio for the visually impaired” (yet another synonym)
    • Description provider: IADA Ltd., that is, International Audio Description Agency (no Web site). Who runs IADA? Carol McGregor. Who is Carol McGregor? Mom of the lovely and talented Ewan McGregor, star of Moulin Rouge. An inside job!
    • “This audio description by IADA Ltd. was commissioned by Fox International. The script was written by Patrick Mulcane and narrated by Dennis Lawson. It was produced by Carol McGregor of IADA Ltd. at Murricane & Murricane Studios in Glasgow, Scotland, July 2001”
    • Lawson – get this – has a Scottish accent. Very nice. He speaks much too slowly and inaudibly at many points (quite simply, he mutters), and the description’s audio ducking and restoring are poor – indisputable flaws that make the description all too hard to understand at repeated points. Lawson, who sounds uniformly bored, dispassionate, or “objective” in a riotously colourful, kitschy, and emotional film, also calls Nicole Kidman “Nickel” Kidman
    • Apparently the A.D. track appears on all English-language discs worldwide. On balance, this is a good thing
    • NEW! Fun new fact sent in by Aleta M. Ringlero: “Your comments regarding the audio description for Moulin Rouge with narration by Dennis Lawson (a Scot!) failed to acknowledge he is the uncle of the beautiful and talented star of the film, Ewan McGregor, and brother of the producer, Carol McGregor, Ewan's mother.  Long live nepotism. Frankly, I liked Lawson's narration of the film”
  7. Pocahontas (2001.10.08)
  8. Tarzan (2001.10.08)
  9. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (2001.10.08)
    • IMDB listing
    • Not the same as the Ultimate Edition (no room on the disc for audio description after all other geegaws were added)
    • Comments: Based on the DVS Home Video version, obviously. As is now the custom, end credits are read in their entirety, meaning the described videotape is actually longer than the original by several minutes. (Black video is added to the end of the original.) The DVD lacks that feature; reading of end credits comes to a halt when the end credits do.
    • Description provider: DVS

Region 2

The Royal National Institute for the Blind mentioned that its home-video description program had extended to DVDs – far more than are available in Region 1.

However, most IMDB and Amazon listings fail to mention description; I had to look for reviews and other corroboration. Relevant links are given anyway.

Update (2002.01.27): Some new titles from RNIB, and, what’s more, new German titles. Can you believe it?

U.K. releases

Let’s start off with a history of additions to this section.
  • Additions as of July 2002:
    1. Croupier
    2. Enemy at the Gates
    3. Enemy of the State
    4. The Hole
    5. Iris
    6. Late Night Shopping
    7. Rat Race
    8. The Wedding Planner
  • Additions as of October 2001:
    1. Armageddon
    2. Chicken Run
    3. Dancer in the Dark
    4. East is East
    5. Gangster Nº 1
    6. The House of Mirth
    7. Pretty Woman
    8. Purely Belter
    9. The Rock
    10. Rogue Trader
    11. Sexy Beast
    12. Tarzan
    13. War Zone
  1. Armageddon (2001.10.08)
    • No mention at IMDB listing
    • No independent confirmation
    • Description provider: RNIB
  2. Chicken Run (2001.10.08)
  3. Croupier (2002.07.23)
  4. Dancer in the Dark (2001.10.08)
  5. East is East (2001.10.08)
    • No mention at IMDB listing
    • No other confirmation
    • Comments: Believed to be the very first Region 2 DVD with description
    • Description provider: RNIB
  6. Enemy at the Gates (2002.07.23)
  7. Enemy of the State (2002.07.23)
    • No mention at Amazon
    • No independent confirmation
    • Description provider: RNIB
  8. Gangster Nº 1 (2001.10.08)
  9. The Hole (2002.07.23)
  10. Iris (2002.07.23)
  11. Late Night Shopping (2002.07.23)
    • No mention at Amazon
    • No independent confirmation
    • Description provider: RNIB
  12. Rat Race (2002.07.23)
    • There is no Amazon listing
    • No mention at IMDB listing
    • Description provider: RNIB
  13. Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (2002.01.27)
    • No mention at IMDB listing (indeed, no mention that it even exists in U.K. release)
    • Description provider: RNIB
  14. The House of Mirth (2001.10.08)
  15. Peter Pan (2002.01.27)
  16. Pretty Woman (2001.10.08)
    • No mention at IMDB listing
    • No independent confirmation
    • Description provider: RNIB
  17. Purely Belter (2001.10.08)
  18. The Rescuers (2002.01.27)
    • No obvious online listing of any kind
    • No other confirmation
    • Description provider: RNIB
  19. The Rock (2001.10.08)
  20. Rogue Trader (2001.10.08)
  21. Sexy Beast (2001.10.08)
  22. Sleeping Beauty (2002.01.27)
    • No unambiguous online listings
    • No other confirmation
    • Description provider: RNIB
  23. Tarzan (2001.10.08)
  24. Very Annie-Mary (2002.01.27)
  25. War Zone (2001.10.08)
  26. The Wedding Planner (2002.07.23)

German releases

Well, what a surprise. Unbeknownst to English-speakers, Deutsche Hörfilm, which has done A.D. on television and in theatre for quite a while (I’ve been scanning their Web pages for intelligible English loanwords for at least three years), has come up with eight German-language DVDs with audio description. One is particularly interesting.

  1. Der talentierte Mr. Ripley
  2. Alles über meine Mutter
  3. Der dritte Mann
  4. La Strada – Das Lied der Straße
  5. Leoparden küsst man nicht
  6. Frequency
  7. Die Stille nach dem Schuss
  8. Dancer in the Dark

And on the topic of Dancer in the Dark: Yes, the same DVD described by the RNIB. But, like Lincolns and The Grinch, this one’s got audiovisual menus.

If we are to believe the page, the disc lets you watch the film with main audio plus descriptions, navigate the menu with voice output, or use the menu without voice. This may be a sensible approach – Option 1 gets to the point and plays the damn movie in an accessible way; if you want to do more than that, you can select Option 2 and go from there.

I know that audio description also happens on Japanese TV; how hard will it be to figure out if Japanese DVDs come equipped with description?


Upcoming DVDs with audio description: None known.


A raft of DVDs were released without description even though the theatrical showing of the film was described, meaning the description track was already bought and paid for.

Yes, in some cases there aren’t enough bits left on a disc to make room for description, and it goes without saying that the first survivor pushed off the liferaft ought to be accessibility for the blind.

Yet this excuse does not hold for the majority of titles described under DVS Theatrical, the audio-description half of the WGBH MoPix system.

I’m just gonna hoover in the listings from NCAM’s own site:

Imax and “large-format” films

Nineteen Imax films were described, but based on quickie Amazon searches, the following are the only Imax DVDs. (The Imax site is useless – as far as it is concerned, Imax DVDs do not exist, and its E-commerce arm is farmed out to Yahoo.)

  1. Africa’s Elephant Kingdom
  2. Dolphins
  3. Everest
  4. The Magic of Flight
  5. Michael Jordan to the Max
  6. Mission to Mir
  7. T-Rex

Hollywood films

  1. 28 Days
  2. 8 mm
  3. American Pie 2 (2002.01.27)
  4. Big Daddy
  5. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2002.02.13)
  6. Charlie’s Angels
  7. The Cider House Rules
  8. Entrapment
  9. Final Fantasy (2001.10.27)
  10. Gone in 60 Seconds
  11. The Green Mile
  12. Hanging Up
  13. Hollow Man
  14. The Jackal
  15. Jurassic Park III (2001.12.08)
  16. The Mask of Zorro
  17. Mission to Mars
  18. The Patriot
  19. Pearl Harbor (2001.12.08)
  20. Random Hearts
  21. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
  22. Stuart Little
  23. Titanic

Canadian dishonourable mention

The shockingly incompetent AudioVision Canada described Denys Arcand’s film Stardom for a public screening at a regular movie theatre – only the second open-described feature film I know about. (The other: A benefit screening of My Left Foot in 1990.) The showing happened exactly once with essentially no publicity at a cinema in my neighbourhood. (The only cinema in my neighbourhood.) I still missed it.

And guess what? No description track on the DVD.