Just announced: Level Access and eSSENTIAL Accessibility agree to merge! Read more.

by Debra Ruh, Chief Marketing Officer

SSB BART Group applauds the report and order released by the FCC on August 25, 2011 (see FCC press release below), requiring major networks and cable/satellite providers to provide video description for television programs. We look forward to the day when ALL television programs will be required to have narrative descriptions. I can’t imagine why our society wouldn’t want to include everyone in every aspect of daily life. Why is it okay for some people to get full access to television programs while millions of others are left out because of the lack of accommodations needed to allow them to have the same experience?

WGBH has done amazing work describing videos and DVDs. I remember purchasing Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park with narrative descriptions added because I was curious how they would describe the movie yet not take away from the dialog. I was so impressed with the way they blended the descriptions into the movie, and it really added to my enjoyment of the movie overall. I understood the movies so much better than if I would have viewed them without descriptions. So I decided to do the ultimate test (smirk) and I purchased a movie that had previously baffled me when I watched it with my son. I purchased a copy of The Matrix with video descriptions and I actually understood the movie for the first time.

I feel that video descriptions are as important as captioning. Not only is this critical for people that need descriptions and captioning, but the rest of us can benefit from the efforts in unexpected ways.

Bottom-line – everyone needs and deserves full access! Check out WGBH’s cool selection of descriptive videos online. I know you all want to get The Matrix one…or was it only me that was totally confused by that movie?


On August 25, 2011, the FCC released a Report and Order to adopt rules requiring video description for certain television programming. Video description is narrated descriptions of a television program’s key visual elements inserted into natural pauses in the program’s dialogue. Video descriptions improve access to television programs for millions of Americans who are blind or visually impaired.

The Commission adopted rules requiring video description in 2000, but those rules were struck down by a federal court in 2002. In 2010, Congress enacted the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which required reinstatement of those video description rules, with certain modifications.

These video description rules require ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates in the top 25 market areas, plus cable and satellite television providers with more than 50,000 subscribers, to provide video description. ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, USA, the Disney Channel, TNT, Nickelodeon, and TBS are each required to provide 50 hours of video-described prime time or children’s programming per calendar quarter. Full compliance with the rules is required by July 1, 2012.

Report and Order:

Copps Statement:

Clyburn Statement: