A new internet TV platform is currently launching with planning to offer its ‘viewers’ a service that no other company has attempted before – with content aimed specifically for blind people and the visually impaired.
The new project follows on from a ruling in America beginning last year enforcing at least 50 hours per quarter of audio-described programming (essentially an overlay narration of everything happening on-screen) from each major network, although stations and internet services (such as Netflix and Hulu, who are only obliged to provide closed-captioning for the deaf and hearing impaired) that are not tied to this mandatory requirement have overlooked putting in such a feature which would generally only cater to a very small minority of their userbase.
A team of ‘blind programmers’, however, are looking to buck the trend and fill the gap in the online market through their new charity project ‘Blindy TV‘, that looks to temporarily address the issue of ‘lack of accessible content for applicable viewers’, and fulfilling a long-term goal of ‘equal-opportunity viewing’.
Believing that the blind have the right to enjoy ‘the shared culture of their sighted family and friends, the new website looks to offer 24/7 free programming that is both commercial-free and not supported by government funding. Included on the site so far are four original ‘channels’ for streaming well-known content, including the comedy channel (noted as running shows including The Big Bang Theory, I Love Lucy, South Park, The Simpsons, and Family Guy), drama (with House, M. D., Downton Abbey, CSI, NCIS, Elementary, and Criminal Minds), science fiction (Star Trek, The Star Wars: The Clone Wars, A Town Called Eureka, Life on Mars), and the ‘Brain Channel’ (randomly-selected educational content), while an additional ‘ETC. channel’ operates a random selection of the above programming combined with shows not fitting into any of the specific categories, such as MasterChef.
Also providing users with information on the way users can access audio description on mainstream TV in the USA, Blindy TV also offer audio-only versions of described TV shows siyrced from Canada, as well as app access via ‘Blindy TV desktop’.
Describing themselves and their goal on their official website, Blindy TV announced their intentions by writing: “…we aren’t [called] Blindy TV to offend you. We are Blindy TV because we are offended, and we think that you should be, too! Our best efforts leave us with something that sounds like TV, but is not. It is a type of audio-only TV ghetto. We, therefore, do not bring you mainstream described TV, as your media providers should be doing that. Instead, we bring you Blindy TV, as that is the best that we have. We hope that you will enjoy what we have made, but we don’t want people to forget that equal access to mainstream media, not some Blindy TV, is the real goal.”
It is undoubtedly one of the worst disabilities that a person could live with, but will Blindy TV’s efforts ensure that there is one less thing in the world that the visually-impaired have to miss out on? A chance to experience what those viewers are going through when they watch a movie (with and without description) can be seen below, along with a feature-length online movie in the combined format for all viewers:
And where Blindy TV might be missing a trick is with the implementation of sporting content, whether it is generalised or slightly more geared towards its audience’s situation: