Joe Clark: Accessibility | Design | Writing

Failures in audio description:
Anne of Green Gables

With no publicity I could find, in March 2000 the CBC in Canada ran a two-part Anne of Green Gables movie with “descriptive video.” All I could find was this press release on the CBC Web site (and note the baldfaced lie about CBC’s being the only broadcaster in the world using SAP and radio-reading-service technology):

CBC Television and AudioVision Canada breaking new ground in television programming for vision-restricted canadians

CBC Television will broadcast a described version of the highly anticipated mini-series Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story starring Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie. The two-part, four-hour mini-series will air Sunday, March 5 and Monday, March 6 from 8 to 10 p.m. on CBC Television. AudioVision Canada created the special description for this long-awaited conclusion to the classic Canadian trilogy. Video description is a means of “turning up the picture” for people with impaired or diminished vision. A concise narration of the key visual elements of a film or television program is woven into the sound track in a way that complements the dialogue and sound effects. The added narration enables people with vision problems to follow what’s happening on the screen.

The described version of Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story will be available to most CBC viewers. In the greater Toronto area, the described version will be carried using the Second Audio Program (SAP) component of CBLT-TV’s stereo signal. Viewers with a stereo TV or VCR can receive the SAP component of the stereo TV signal. In addition, the described version will be carried nationally by VoicePrint, the audio news and information service delivered by satellite and cable to more than five million homes throughout Canada.

CBC Television is the only North American broadcaster to support this new technology by making a described version available. Description benefits over 1.5 million Canadians with impaired or diminished vision. AudioVision Canada and VoicePrint are divisions of the National Broadcast Reading Service Inc., a non-profit organization established in 1989 to make media more accessible for vision-restricted Canadians.

I only noticed there was A.D. of any kind because of a voice-over (possibly with a title card saying the same thing in print) at the outset of the second episode.

Partial notes:

Any Canadians who need description done ought to fork over the American dollars and hire DVS, Canadian content be damned.

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Audio description
AudioVisionWatchAnne of Green Gables


Updated 2007.02.28

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