Live audio description of Bush inauguration
January 14, 2001 5:52 PM   Subscribe

Live audio description of Bush inauguration If you get PBS and if your PBS station broadcasts in stereo, you will likely be able to hear only the second-ever attempt at audio description of a live event - the inauguration of Bush. (The other live-described event was Clinton's inauguration.) This of course is audio description, ostensibly for blind viewers. Set your TV or VCR to SAP and compare the approaches of the standard announcers, who call the event assuming the viewer can see, and the describers, who don't. (No sexy Web page for this event.)
posted by joeclark (9 comments total)
I'm confused. How could this be "the second-ever attempt at audio description of a live event" when I've been listening to perfectly live commentary of the cricket since I was five? Don't Americans have live descriptions of sporting events on radio? I would have thought that sports commentary couunts as an "audio description of a live event" by any and every stretch of the imagination.
posted by grestall at 6:03 PM on January 14, 2001

Grestall: I guess joe means the second time on TV. Took me a while to glean that from the description though.

The DVS (Descriptive Video Service) website, and DVS info, including milestones.
posted by pnevares at 6:52 PM on January 14, 2001

...and, according to the DVS Milestones page, the first time it was used was in 1993 for the Clinton inauguration, and the second time was in 1997:

1997 DVS provides live description of the NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER'S coverage of "The Clinton Inaugural: A PBS Special," with funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
posted by pnevares at 6:57 PM on January 14, 2001

Will I be able in a year to get the video from Blockbusters? Will it be Action, Comedy? Soft core porno or musicals?

posted by Postroad at 7:26 PM on January 14, 2001

Oh, riiight. Clinton won twice. Oops. I am, after all, Canadian. Also, play-by-play announcing, even on radio, does not describe all the visual details pointed out in audio description. If you only ever listened to, e.g., radio play-by-play of hockey games, would you ever know that Mike Grier is black, Daniel Alfredsson a redhead, and Mario Lemieux had black hair? This is all kinda theoretical for me, too, since I missed the other two live-description shows. I'm getting people to tape this one. (Actually, anyone out there with two VCRs, one of them with SAP?)
posted by joeclark at 8:17 PM on January 14, 2001

There's already a lot of (non-live) descriptive shows that air. Last week I started watching Ken Burn's Jazz in the middle of episode two and unbeknownst to me my VCR was set for SAP. It took me awhile to realize that the woman describing the photos wasn't part of the documentary. D'oh.

The library usually has lots of descriptive movies you can rent out. They are pretty trippy to listen to at times, as the describer usually shoves a lot of info between dialog. I wouldn't want to describe a live event.
posted by gluechunk at 8:37 PM on January 14, 2001

damn that cable company for cutting my house off!!! now i can't hear anything. the only channel we get is ABC.
posted by sugarfish at 10:53 PM on January 14, 2001

At the theatre where I work, we do one performance during the run of each show that is audio described for the blind or visually-impaired. Through their headsets, between dialogue and music, they hear brief descriptions of the action on stage, including how and to where the actors are moving, the expressions on their faces, what the sets and costumes look like, etc.

In addition, before the show, we conduct "touch tours" of the set, inviting blind patrons on stage and backstage to get a sense of the fabrics, textures and other tactile aspects of the show.

Learning to audio describe a live event takes a lot of training and a deft touch; we have two wonderful volunteers that spearhead our program, and they have, in turn, trained others from different local theatre companies to offer the service. It is very much appreciated by our patrons.
posted by bradlands at 11:01 PM on January 14, 2001

I'm a former audio describer for the visually impaired, having audio described several plays in town. Audio describing live theater is tough enough, even when you have a script and have seen a rehearsal or previous performance. Audio describing a live event (without rehearsal) is much, much harder, because you are trying to fit your terse vocal description in between live dialogue). Audio describers try to avoid stepping on the actors (or almost-presidents) when they are speaking.

fyi: our practice audition when trying out to audio-describe was to describe a dance/mild-sex scene from the move The Turning Point. Much hilarity for all.
posted by jhiggy at 7:54 AM on January 15, 2001

« Older Buy your way onto network television.   |   Andrew Sullivan on the blessed relief of... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments