About the Narrative Television Network
When Jim Stovall lost the remainder of his eyesight at age 29, he was determined to
never leave the controlled environment of his own home again. In fact, he set aside a room
with a telephone,
a radio, a television, and a video cassette player, intending to never
venture out of his secured world.
Jim Stovall met Kathy Harper, who is legally blind, at a support group meeting for blind and visually impaired people. One day while listening to a video of one of his favorite classic movies, Stovall became frustrated when he could not follow the story by only hearing the dialogue and sound effects. He realized that as a blind person there were many visual elements of the story that he missed, and he thought if he was frustrated by it, maybe other visually impaired individuals were as well.
Through research, Stovall and Harper learned that there are 13 million people in the United States who have visual impairments severe enough to limit their enjoyment of movies and television programming. They began to develop a plan to make programs accessible to visually impaired people by adding the voice of a narrator describing the visual elements of the story. Even though they knew nothing about the technology it would require to accomplish such a task, they began working with borrowed equipment to produce the first few narrative soundtracks. Stovall and Harper then planned to add the narrative soundtracks to the existing movie audio. Experts in the television industry told them their plan would never work, but unfailing in their tenacity, they eventually found someone who would help them try, and the videos came together just as they had expected. Less than one year later, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded NTN with an Emmy for technology that has expanded the use of television.
Today, NTN has become one of the fastest-growing networks ever. It has over 1,200 broadcast and cable affiliates, reaching virtually every home in the U. S., and NTN is shown in eleven foreign countries.