Make Movies Accessible to the Blind

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Last week, I watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi with one of my best friends at the local theater (don’t worry, no spoilers here!). We bought our tickets a week in advance and we’ve been planning on it since we saw the first trailer a few months ago. I’ve loved Star Wars for as long as I can remember and was happy to weather the Maine cold in line for a good seat. There were some of the best lightsaber battles of all time and the return of Luke Skywalker left me at the edge of my seat.

However, there’s another side to this story. I’m 14 years old and have been blind since birth. For me to watch a movie, I need a special audio headset that plays something called Audio Description. It’s like a really in depth audio book of the movie so while everyone else is watching the battles on screen, a narrator is describing every saber swing and leap in amazing detail to me.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to have this experience with most movies. Many times Audio Description just doesn’t exist, and even worse, sometimes when it does, the theater doesn’t have the equipment to let me listen to it. When we get back to school on Monday mornings and my friends are talking about the movie they just saw, I’m left standing in silence, excluded from being a part of the conversation. If the Audio Description was always available, this wouldn’t happen.

I’m here today to ask Hollywood to make 2 simple changes to get me, the millions of other people who are blind or have low vision, and anyone else with a sensory disability, to the movies.

First, be sure to make the audio description tracks for every movie! You guys spend millions of dollars to make these movies and certainly want everyone to watch them.

Second, please offer Audio Description through an app or personal device. Can you imagine trying to find the customer help desk, as a blind person, and explain what you need to a staff member who isn't properly trained to understand your needs? And then when you enter the theater, you realize that it’s improperly configured or, halfway through the movie, it's out of battery? I just want to get my popcorn, go into the theater and sit down like everyone else without asking for any different treatment.

“The best way to pursue happiness is to help other people. Nothing else will make you happier.” -George Lucas, creator of Star Wars

Together, we can get everyone to the movies.