Tuesday, November 9, 2010


By Denise Franklin,
Board Member NFB of Greater Louisville

As a child, I spent more than my share of time in front of the television; but as a blind child, I needed friends or family members to tell me what was happening on the screen. They were always happy to oblige and I probably took for granted this pleasant form of recreation.

Going to the movie theater meant that I needed to rely on someone whispering in my ear keeping me up to speed on action that wasn’t obvious through the audio stream. I feel certain that this method was distracting to others in the audience, and I don’t mind telling you that at times I missed important dialogue because good-intentioned companions related details at the wrong time.

Fast-forward to the year 2000, the year I first enjoyed a movie with audio description. The movie was “The Lion King” and I was enthralled by the story. Descriptions were ingeniously inserted between lines of dialogue allowing me to enjoy the production as any sighted person would.

In recent years, the technology that was used to integrate audio description into home movies has found its way into some movie theaters. Headsets are provided to blind patrons so that we can hear the description as the feature is playing.

Even though we had only one cinema complex in Louisville offering audio-described movies, (and only one out of its twenty theaters was equipped, severely limiting our choices), I have greatly enjoyed the first-run movies they have offered.

I am sad to report that this past spring, Stonybrook Cinemas was sold to Rave Motion Pictures in Dallas Texas and is no longer providing any audio-described movies. Phone calls have been made and our complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Obviously this new company does not value its blind patrons enough to even utilize the equipment and technology that already exists within the building. Once again we have been reminded that we are second-class citizens.

On a positive note, at our last State Convention the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky passed a resolution addressing this issue and sent copies to Stonybrook Cinema and Rave Motion Pictures. I sincerely hope that some day soon the accessable movies will be restored and my friends and relatives can stop whispering in my ear and disturbing movie audiences.