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Coming Soon: Descriptive TV for the Blind

Beginning Sunday, large cable television networks have to provide TV for the blind. ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX stations in Memphis are required to provide the service in 2015.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Beginning Sunday, large cable television networks have to provide TV for the blind. ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX stations in Memphis are required to provide the service in 2015.

It's called Audio Descriptive Programming, and stations will have to air at least four hours a week.

With the addition of more Audio Descriptive Programs, the words being spoken will help bring the TV screen into focus.

Charlese Pennington works for Meritan's blind and visually impaired services. She says with Audio Descriptive Programming, "You can almost see what's going on… your quality of life is increased."

Marilyn Sortor is one of Meritan's clients. She says having the action in movies and shows described to her would be a welcomed "sight" to hear.

"I have retinitis pigmentosa," she said. "A person that's visually impaired, they want to see what's going on. They want to know what's going on."

As the Executive Director of the American Council of the Blind, Melanie Brunson has been fighting the fight for described programming for more than twenty years.

"We all know how important television is to the average person, we're no exception," Brunson said. "It has been frustrating."

That frustration stems from TV broadcasters' reluctance to provide that programming.

She said, "When there's a movie on that everybody will be talking about, we're just as interested as you are, the average person."

Brunson says the average person has a visual impairment at one point or another. "People cook dinner while watching TV, help with homework while watching television."

"This isn't just about blind people, it will benefit everyone," noted Pennington. "They should have done it years and years ago."

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