Watching DVD movies can be relaxing and entertaining. But being totally blind means that I cannot enjoy many movies. It is frustrating because the movie experience is often very visual. Often I feel like I have only got half the movie and missed many important parts.
Fortunately, I do have wonderful friends and family who are happy to describe the movie to me. They sometimes also read subtitles to me. But sometimes it is too difficult for my friends to read subtitles as they come and go too quickly. Audio description is far preferable. It means I can enjoy a film independently.
Audio description enhances plays, exhibitions, opera and ballet as well as movies. A narrator describes what is visually happening on the screen or stage. Audio description opens up new doors for people with a vision impairment.
I have watched a few DVDs that are audio described. It has been an amazing experience. It makes a big difference. It really helps me to understand the movie. The narrator describes what is happening when characters are not speaking. It is particularly useful if there is a lot of action in a movie. But it is also good to hear simple information like describing the scenery.
Robin Hood is a good example of a recently released DVD that contains audio description. The movie shows how a heroic warrior turns into an outlaw leading an uprising against a corrupt King. Without audio description, I would not have enjoyed the film. It has many war scenes that do not contain dialogue. The audio description ensures all of the combat scenes are described as well as other action sequences.
I believe that vision impaired Australians deserve wider access to audio described films. Access to movies at a reasonable cost can benefit the industry, too. More people will be able to enjoy films. Screen Australia says the average cost to provide both captioning and audio description is less than $8000.
Screen Australia CEO Ruth Harley says "better and more equitable audience access" to films is
a benefit for the industry and community as a whole.
For some Australians it will mean being able to take their children to the cinema and share the experience of the film with them for the first time. For someone who has recently lost their sight it will mean they will not have to miss experiencing films.
The Federal Government is funding a national upgrade of cinemas to be caption and audio description compliant by 2013. It will provide around 600,000 Australians who are blind or visually impaired access to audio described films experience. But I look forward to a day when Deaf and blind Australians can enjoy all movies released in cinemas and on DVD.