Comcast customers who are blind or have low vision can enjoy increased access to TV programs with Video Description.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Video Description?
Video Description refers to audio-narrated descriptions of key visual elements of programming inserted within natural pauses in dialog. It makes television programs, feature films and other media accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. For example, Video Description describes key visual elements (e.g., actions, costumes, scene changes) or scenes in a program that a blind or visually impaired viewer would otherwise miss.
Is Video Description a legal requirement?
Yes. On August 25, 2011, the FCC released an order requiring Video Description on certain TV programming as directed by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. The new rules requiring Video Description went into effect on July 1, 2012. The goal of these rules is to improve access to TV programming for people who are blind or have low vision. This will lead to more programming (although not all) containing Video Description.
What does Comcast have to do?
Comcast Cable needs to ensure that all Comcast leased set-top boxes and DTAs are capable of selecting Video Description services.
What Broadcasters/Programmers are required to offer Video Description?
Broadcast stations affiliated with ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC must provide at least 50 hours (roughly four hours per week) of video-described prime time or children’s programming each quarter. In addition, cable systems like Comcast must provide at least 50 hours per calendar quarter of video described prime time or children’s programming on each of the top five non-broadcast networks they carry. The top five non-broadcast networks currently are USA, Disney Channel, TNT, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, and TBS. Select programs with Video Description are also available on PBS and Turner Classic Movies.
How do I access Video Description?
Video Descriptions are supplied by programming providers combined with the regular program audio on a separate audio track. Where a programming provider does supply Video Description in a Comcast System, Comcast will pass through Video Descriptions on the secondary audio channel (sometimes also used for Spanish programming). To access the separate audio track that contains Video Description, the customer will need to select the secondary (usually "Spanish") audio language on the set-top box.
What specific programming contains Video Description?
The cable networks and broadcasters determine what content is video described and how information on that programming is provided to the public. We understand programming such as USA’s Law & Order: SVU and Royal Pains will contain video description, along with Dora the Explorer on Nickelodeon and shows like The Office, Parenthood and Parks and Recreation on NBC. Some programmers plan to label programming with video description through logos and audio tones. In addition, several programmers plan to provide information via their web sites or through toll-free numbers. As we receive information on what programming is video described we will pass that information along to our customers.
Why does my show no longer have Spanish audio available on SAP?
The broadcasters/programmers decide what to place on the secondary audio channel. Although often it will be Spanish language audio, in many cases Video Description or an alternative language may be present.