WGBH News and Media Relations


February 27, 2014

WGBH Makes Oscars Best Picture Nominees Accessible for Hearing and Visually Impaired Moviegoers

Leader in accessible media provides captioning and descriptive services for eight of the nine Best Picture-nominated films
BOSTON, Mass. (February 27, 2014) – The Media Access Group (MAG) at WGBH has provided captioning and descriptive services for eight of the nine films nominated for Best Picture at the 86th Academy Awards, making it possible for hearing and visually impaired audiences to experience Oscar-nominated films in theaters and on DVD. As part of WGBH, New England’s foremost public broadcaster and a national leader in media accessibility, MAG has provided captioning and description services for “American Hustle,” “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Gravity,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “12 Years a Slave” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” among other Hollywood films.
“Over the last two decades, the Media Access Group at WGBH has worked with Hollywood studios and production companies to make blockbuster films accessible to audiences with disabilities. We take great pride in being able to offer a service that makes it possible for deaf and blind moviegoers to not only enjoy Oscar-nominated films in theaters, with friends and family, but also be ready for any Oscar-viewing party they want to attend,” said Alison Godburn, Director of the Media Access Group at WGBH.
In addition to captioning for on-air and Web broadcasts, MAG’s Rear Window® Captioning and DVS Theatrical® technology make movie theaters accessible to audiences with hearing and vision disabilities. The DVS Theatrical service provides descriptive narration of key visual elements, which is then inserted within the natural pauses in dialogue to help low-vision viewers to better understand the story. Key visual elements are those which viewers with vision loss would ordinarily miss and include actions, costumes, gestures, facial expressions, scene changes, and onscreen text. 
WGBH pioneered captioning and other media access technology and has delivered accessible media to people with disabilities for over 30 years. WGBH’s MAG continues to develop new means of access each year and members of the group's collective staff represent the leading experts in their fields. Through research and technology development from WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), MAG is actively entering new markets, providing comprehensive captioning and description services for the web, theme parks, museums and other attractions.
An example of video description from the trailer for the film “Horton Hears A Who” is available here, and an audio file and transcript of description for the film “Gravity” is provided below.
The Soyuz undocks from the ISS, pulling with it a thick yellow cable attached to the many cords of the deployed parachute.  Beyond the departing pod, a cloud-dusted swath of Earth fills the background.  Ryan sits before a wide circular scope with a grid.  She checks her wristwatch, which reads seven minutes, twenty-five seconds.  ["SEVEN MINUTES TO GET OUT OF HERE."]  She slides out two controllers, then lowers extended armrests on each.  [(FAINT) "ALRIGHT.  OKAY."]  The Soyuz emits a couple of short thrusts as it continues its slow departure.  With the open parachute still tangled around the space station, the chute's cords jerk the pod back like a leash.  [RYAN STARTS]  Ryan gets jostled inside the cabin, then looks around. 
["WHAT?  WHAT DO I?  WHAT-WHAT--?"  [04:01:00;02]]  The Soyuz drifts back toward the ISS.  Ryan spots the deployed chute on her scope, then looks out a window to glimpse the tangle of cords.  ["NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO."]  Despite firing its thrusters, the pod tumbles uncontrollably.  As it swings around the space station like a yo-yo, a porthole window reveals its frantic pilot.  Inside the cabin, Ryan watches the cords wrap around another section of the ISS.  As the pod falls away, the cords get pulled taut once more.
The 86th Academy Awards air live Sun, 3/2 at 7pm (ET) on ABC.
About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Curious George and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle and children’s series, reaching nearly 75 million people each month. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio, and oversees Public Radio International (PRI). As a leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, WGBH partnered with PBS to create PBS LearningMediaTM, an on-demand media service for educators and students. WGBH is also a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at www.wgbh.org.


WGBH Media Relations

Emily Balk

Catherine Burke