Sunday, August 15, 2010

Described Video Without The Video

WGBH in Boston started the Described Video movement and has been a major producer of video tapes with descriptions added to the sound track. It is fairly easy, aside from the work of recording a description, to add a recorded voice over to an existing tape. It is very much harder to add a description to a DVD, and VHS video tapes are dying out right now.

One other problem with DVD movies is the absolute lack of a consistent menu structure. Pop in a disc and you have absolutely no idea how to turn on the description track unless you can see the screen. The studios treat these set up menus as artistic creations, and the inability of a non-sighted person to operate one of their products seems to matter not one single little bit to them. They have a fully visual product and they seem to want to keep it that way.

However, if you don't care your own single little bit about the visual part of any movie, there is a kludge. Blind Mice Mart has a movie section with a list of 130 or so titles that have the movie sound track and the description track stripped from them and converted to MP3 audio files. You can read the list at and each title holds a link to a service called SendSpace. It's a file downloading service that makes it's money by offering faster downloads for a subscription payment of about nine dollars a month, and much slower download rates for free. A sound track will take, pretty much, twenty to thirty minutes to download.

But it's free, and you get to watch a movie on any MP3 player.

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