By Raymond Montgomery, sr. marketing activities associate
How can you watch television if you are unable to see what is happening on the screen? Many sighted people may ask this question to someone with a visual impairment. Many people who are blind or visually impaired can follow along with the dialogue to understand what is happening on the screen. However, some television programs are somewhat hard to follow. For instance, when watching an action-packed movie, some of the exciting car chases and action scenes can be hard to follow. Most of those scenes have limited dialog, and are mixed with the sounds of loud explosions and sirens. Although it is still possible to enjoy your favorite TV shows, movies and sporting events as a person with vision loss, having them described by a narrator would provide a deeper level of detail. Although NBC was able to narrate last year’s Olympics, described sporting events remain rare. To hear these types of broadcast, you would need to access a Secondary Audio Program (SAP) stream that may include an audio track in another language such as Spanish or descriptive video narration for the visually impaired. Audio described sports broadcast has the potential to change how some people who are blind watch their favorite team. I know many people with vision loss who still enjoy playing, attending and watching a good baseball, basketball or football game. One of the most significant sporting events, The Super Bowl is happening in a few days, and just like our sighted friends, the blind community will be watching. I know what you are thinking. How does a person who is blind or visually impaired watch the Super Bowl? Well, people who are blind enjoy the festive atmosphere that surrounds the Super Bowl just like anyone else by hosting or attending watch parties or heading to a local sports bar.
When watching a game like the Super Bowl, or for any sports broadcast, a play-by-play can help you keep up with what’s happening during the game. For this reason, many people who are blind like to listen to the game on the radio, as well as having it playing on the television.
Radio may seem outdated to some, but for those who cannot see, it is still a helpful option. Broadcasters have to give as much information to the listener as possible, which could include a vivid description of what the player is wearing, the expression on their faces and how they fought through those tackles. So not only can people who are blind follow the action, but they can also connect with the emotional aspect of the game.
Although it is not yet clear if this year’s Super Bowl will be audio described, I recommend you check your accessibility settings. If that is not an option, you can always break out your radio and sit back and enjoy the game the old-fashioned way.