Frequently Asked Questions
What is described or narrated programming?
Described programming or movies include all the elements of the original program plus additional information that describes the pictures on the screen so that those who are blind or have visual impairments are able to follow the storyline. The descriptive track runs without interrupting the
soundtrack by inserting the description only where there is a pause in the dialogue or sound effects. Great care is taken to add just enough description to be helpful without distracting the audience from the flow of the program.
Who benefits from described programming?
Those who are blind or visually impaired
find that description is extremely valuable and greatly increases their
understanding and enjoyment of programs, but other populations also
benefit from described programming. Studies have shown that description
benefits children with learning disabilities and sighted individuals who
are developmentally disabled.
Those learning English as a second language can benefit greatly from
described or narrated programming.
In all of these populations, description has been shown to increase the educational, socialization, and entertainment benefits of television and movies. Description is also used by sighted individuals enabling them to turn away from the television and perform other tasks while still following their favorite programs.
NTN looks to the future in evaluating the possible uses of description. For example, a described track available on all DVDs would make the technology more accessible to a greater population. Satellite radio offers an opportunity for anyone to “watch” their favorite programs in the car or at other times when a television is not available.
How do I turn the description on?
All televisions that are 19 inches or larger that were manufactured in the last several years are equipped with a Second Audio Program or SAP
option. Some newer televisions have a SAP (or MTS) button on the remote, but most are still menu driven on the TV screen. If this function is turned on, and if the program is described, you will be able to hear the description. Not all programming is described and for those programs that aren’t, you may not be able to hear any audio at all when you turn on the SAP, so it is important to be able to switch back and forth from SAP-on to SAP-off.
Currently not all cable companies have the equipment required to pass the description through, but if you subscribe to a satellite service you should be able to receive it.
If you are not receiving the description via the SAP option for a program that is listed in our guide as described, you may need to contact your satellite or cable provider to request they pass through the SAP signal.