WGBH News and Media Relations


February 13, 2015

WGBH Makes Oscar-Nominated Films Accessible for Hearing and Visually Impaired Moviegoers

Boston-based leader in accessible media provides captioning and descriptive services for five of the eight Best Picture nominees

BOSTON, Mass. (February 13, 2015) – The Media Access Group (MAG) at WGBH has provided captioning and descriptive services for five of the eight films nominated for Best Picture at the 87th 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 the following films, among others:

·       “Birdman”

·       “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

·       “The Imitation Game”

·       “The Theory of Everything”

·       “Whiplash”

MAG has also captioned and described Best Animated Feature nominee, “The Boxtrolls,” and Best Foreign Language Film nominee, “Leviathan.”

“The Media Access Group at WGBH has captioned and described more than a dozen films nominated for this year’s 87th Academy Awards, building on two decades of work with Hollywood studios and production companies to make blockbuster films accessible to audiences with disabilities. We are proud to offer a service that enables deaf and blind moviegoers to experience the fun of seeing their favorite Oscar-nominated movies alongside family and friends, whether in theaters or from the comfort of their homes on DVD and streaming,” 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 natural pauses in dialogue to help low-vision viewers better understand the story. These elements include costume details, gestures and 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. 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 a transcript of description for the film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is provided below.

The 87th Academy Awards air live Sunday, February 22 at 7pm (ET) on ABC.




("…you sweet, kind man.")

He nods.  Now, the escapees descend a stairway to a lower level and face a door labeled, "Guard Bunk Room."  Ludwig creeps over, then puts a finger to his lips.  He opens the door and enters a long chamber filled with guards sleeping in a tightly packed row of cots.  The inmates' dangling feet pass over the beds as they swing their way over the guards.  They crawl beneath the cots!  They hop their way over the beds, stepping on their nightstands.  Now, the inmates file and chisel the bars blocking a window.  ["OKAY."]  All pulling together, they tug the bars free.


[:05 SFX/GRUNTS [03:20:36:15]  They lower a homemade rope ladder out the window.  [PAUSE]  It's several stories long!  [:02 PAUSE]  Peering out, Ludwig surveys the dizzying drop below.  The prison wall perches at the edge of a high cliff.  From a distance, we watch their silhouetted figures steadily descend the ladder.  Reaching a lower floor, they side-step along window ledges to a steam vent, then swing inside feet-first. 


[:02 PAUSE [03:21:02:15]  At the bottom of the vent, the inmates land in a massive laundry basket.  Ludwig arrives last, then leans over and faces a small trap door just ahead.  The inmates move to the floor surrounding it.  Ludwig lifts the trap door away.  Peering in, the inmates find guards huddled around a card game.  The guards look up at them!


["WHOA!" :02 GERMAN?]  Drawing a knife, Gunther kisses the blade and jumps in.  From below, we glimpse his fellow inmates as they look down in a huddle.  Shadows dance across their faces.  Surrounded by dead guards, Gunther stabs the last.  The dying guard stabs him back, and both men die at once. 


About WGBH?

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including MasterpieceAntiques RoadshowFrontlineNova, American ExperienceArthurCurious George, and more than a dozen other primetime, lifestyle and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH TV productions focusing on the region’s diverse community include Greater BostonBasic Black and High School Quiz Show. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of programs for public radio (among them, PRI’s The World®), a leader in educational multimedia (including PBS LearningMedia™, providing the nation’s educators with free, curriculum-based digital content), and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired audiences. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at wgbh.org.




WGBH Media Relations

Emily Balk

Catherine Burke