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Sony Partners With WGBH to Deliver Descriptive Video Service for DVDs

2 Sep, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey



Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the latest studio to join forces with WGBH Media Access Group to deliver select DVDs with Descriptive Video Service (DVS), an optional feature that provides audio narration for visual elements, allowing consumers who are blind or who have impaired vision to “watch” the content.

PBS Home Video and Universal Studios Home Entertainment have both released titles that include the feature.

“I don’t know how large the untapped market may be. We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” said Tracey Garvin, SVP of worldwide marketing for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “There’s so much visually that the impaired can’t pick up. It really enriches the experience, and it’s certainly worth the additional expense.”

The American Foundation for the Blind estimates there are more than 20 million people in the country with significant visual impairment.

Mary Watkins, outreach director for WGBH’s Media Access Group, said WGBH had done descriptive content for VHS, producing more than 200 titles from nearly all the studios.

“The gap between the end of the road for the VHS format several years ago, and this announcement by Sony of all major titles going forward including a DVS track, has been painful to an audience that loves movies as much as sighted viewers,” she said. “DVS on DVD enables people who are blind or have low vision to enjoy a movie independently, relieves their friends and loved ones of being amateur describers at home, and ensures a better return on Sony's original investment on the service for the theatrical release ... good news all around.”

The American Foundation for the Blind estimates there are more than 20 million people in the country with significant visual impairment.

The first Sony titles to include the feature will be The Taking of Pelham 123 (Nov. 3), The Ugly Truth, Julie & Julia and District 9. Beginning this fall, any theatrical release from Sony including descriptive audio also will have the feature on eventual DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases.

Listed as an audio option in the languages option of DVDs and Blu-rays, Descriptive Video Service offers narration describing everything from facial expressions and gestures to costume and on-screen text.

Garvin said that the transfer of a Descriptive Video Service for disc isn’t a difficult task for the studio. She added that Sony is “really proud to be able to do this.”


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