More on a "Copyright of Way" for Video Description

posted Apr 9, 2014, 1:18 PM by Jennifer Justice

Do you have questions about video description and copyright law? Mark Richert, Director of Public Policy at the American Foundation for the Blind, analyzes the current legal landscape in An Appropriate "Copyright of Way" for People with Disabilities: How Would You Describe It?

“It should be so simple. If people who are blind or visually impaired want to enjoy video content — television programs, major motion pictures, popular online multimedia, educational materials, and on and on, they should certainly be able to do so on terms of genuine equality. And if their access to such content depends on, or can be enhanced through, the description of the on-screen visual elements via voice-over narration, such description should be provided. And if the creator of the original content does not provide description or provides insufficient description, others should be allowed to provide it. And if other people with disabilities can benefit from the described content, they too should be allowed to enjoy it.”

According to current US copyright law, the Chafee Amendment makes provisions for third party creation of accessible materials of existing literary works. To date there is no specific provision in regards to the production of accessible content for use with audiovisual works. Nevertheless, policy analysts argue that supplementary accessible features or content created for use by people with disabilities in tandem with existing audiovisual works should be considered fair use. Given the widespread use of streamed audiovisual content by blind/ disabled Internet users, the adoption of such fair use provisions appears imminent. Never before have blind/ disabled consumers of video description had so many choices when accessing audiovisual content along with their peers! 

Forging a "Copyright of Way" for the Next Generation of Video Description

posted Mar 14, 2014, 5:40 PM by Jennifer Justice

Do you have questions about video description and copyright law? Mark Richert, Director of Public Policy at the American Foundation for the Blind, analyzes the current legal landscape in An Appropriate "Copyright of Way" for People with Disabilities: How Would You Describe It?

If you’re anything like me the words “copyright law” evoke a sense of vague dread. Know you are not alone! Richert notes that “…the enjoyment of described video content is … made more complicated by copyright law“ due in part to its lengthy legal history and complexity.

Richert asks, “…[H]ow can we improve America's copyright law so that it rewards the efforts of [copyright] owners to ensure accessibility from the start? And how can we support the efforts of third parties (such as educators, family, friends, and other blindness/ VI professionals) that take up the work of accessibility when owners do not?”

Learn more about possible prescriptions to improve existing laws at afb.org.

Putting the “VI” in Videos- VDRDC's Dr. Joshua Miele at AFB Leadership Conference

posted Feb 28, 2014, 3:22 PM by Jennifer Justice   [ updated Feb 28, 2014, 3:37 PM ]

This Saturday March 1st, VDRDC Director Dr. Joshua Miele will address attendees of the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference during, “Putting the ‘VI’ in Videos: New Tools and Techniques for Describing Video Content.” Dr. Miele will be joined by co- presenter and DLN member, Matthew Kaplowitz, president of Bridge Multimedia in New York City.

Dr. Miele will share the groundbreaking work of the VDRDC’s “cloud- based” video description digital tools, including YouDescribe.org and the many advantages of flexible third- party/ user- generated video description content. YouDescribe.org allows for the easy creation, storage, and sharing of streaming video description content.

Held February 27- March 1, 2014, the AFB Leadership Conference serves as a gathering and think- tank for leaders in the blindness/ VI field. An intensive video description institute is being held in conjunction with the conference. 

New SF LightHouse Program Accepts Description Requests

posted Jan 8, 2014, 4:46 PM by Korie Boctor   [ updated Jan 8, 2014, 4:47 PM ]

The San Francisco LightHouse, in collaboration with the VDRDC, will be conducting a training session on YouDescribe for LightHouse staff and volunteers.  The training will consist of step-by-step instruction on how to use the web-based platform, YouDescribe, which allows any user to add audio description to a YouTube video.  The main goal of the this training session will be to support the LightHouse's new Program which will allow anyone to request a description of any YouTube video.  This service is free to anyone who is blind or visually impaired.  Please visit the LightHouse's blog for more information or to request a description for any YouTube video.

Winter 2013 Webinar, "Going Pro: Using YouDescribe in the Classroom and Beyond" - Dec 11th at 11:00AM (PDT)

posted Dec 2, 2013, 2:58 PM by Korie Boctor   [ updated Dec 2, 2013, 3:04 PM ]

Join The Video Description Research and Development Center (VDRDC) for a free, forward-looking webinar on the changing world of educational video description on December 11, 2013 at 02:00 PM EDT/01:00 PM CDT/12:00 PM MDT/11:00 AM PDT. While previous webinars have introduced YouDescribe, the exiting new tool developed by the VDRDC that anyone can use to add description to YouTube videos, this webinar will feature a live panel discussion about how YouDescribe is being used to provide access to content beyond the K-12 classroom. Learn how YouDescribe is being used by: nonprofit organizations and corporations that make promotional and corporate video accessible; alternative media specialists who provide access to college students who are blind; and organizations that provide volunteer and fee-based description services for their clients.
This exciting and interactive presentation is perfect for teachers, coordinators of college disability services, administrators, and parents who want to learn about the latest developments in video description technology and how it can help students who are blind and visually impaired in educational settings. CEU credit will be available to participants through the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).
This innovative webinar is provided by the Video Description Research and Development Center (VDRDC), and the Description Leadership Network (DLN), and is being hosted by the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP).

Register now: http://webinars.dcmp.org/

This Webinar is the fourth and final in a series presented during the two-year project. Archived copies of our previous webinars are available on the registration page.
The Video Description Research and Development Center (VDRDC), administered by The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, is a two-year project with the mission to develop new technologies and techniques for the annotation of online video content and improving video accessibility for students who are blind or visually impaired. The VDRDC is funded by the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), grant number H327J110005.
Webinar participants will have valuable opportunity to learn from and interact with VDRDC scientists and members of the Description Leadership Network – a coalition of world-class organizations involved with the practicality, policy, and technology of blindness and video accessibility. DLN members include: The American Council of the Blind (ACB), The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), Bridge Multimedia, CaptionMax, The Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP), Dicapta, IDEAL Group, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET), The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), Narrative Television Network (NTN), Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF), and The Accessible Planet (TAP).

Funding for this webinar series is provided by the U.S. Department of Education under grant H327J110005. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government. 

YouDescribe Tutorial Session at Berkeley - Nov 21st at 3:00

posted Nov 8, 2013, 3:48 PM by Korie Boctor   [ updated Nov 8, 2013, 3:48 PM ]

Come learn how to add audio description to videos using YouDescribe - a free, web-based tool that lets anyone describe any YouTube video, and share it with everyone. http://youtu.be/XwKm4RILZa4

This hands-on tutorial session is designed to help instructors, students, and alt-media specialists understand how YouDescribe can be used to improve access to instructional video materials for blind and visually-impaired college students.

The session will be led by Dr. Joshua Miele, inventor of YouDescribe, and Director of the Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center.

Attendees will be given a tour of the YouDescribe site, will have an opportunity to create their own YouDescribe account, and can even record some description.

Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP.

When: Thursday, November 21, 3:00PM

Where: UC Berkeley Campus (RSVP for details)

Who: Anyone interested in accessible video for blind college students

What To Bring: A laptop and a USB headset with microphone.

RSVP: E-mail Martha Velasquez:  mvelasquez at berkeley dot edu or call (voice) 510/642-0392

For more details about YouDescribe, visit: http://youdescribe.org/rel/support.php

YouDescribe & Dr. Joshua Miele Featured in June Issue of Access World

posted Aug 11, 2013, 10:52 PM by Jennifer Justice   [ updated Aug 11, 2013, 10:59 PM ]

Recently, VDRDC Director, Dr. Joshua Miele, sat down with journalist and Access World contributor, Deborah Kendrick, to discuss The Work of Smith- Kettlewell's Video Description Research and Development Center.

The VDRDC's YouDescribe video description platform signals a revolution in delivering descriptive audio content to blind consumers everywhere Youtube video is streamed. We are happy to make this article, which appeared in the June 2013 issue of Access World, available to you here. Get all the details at Access World and by checking out our website and Twitter feed today!

VDRDC Presents Demonstration of YouDescribe at OSEP Project Directors' Conference- 2013 in Washington D.C.

posted Jul 29, 2013, 4:22 PM by Jennifer Justice

The VDRDC was pleased to take part in the US Office of Special Education Programs Project Directors' Conference on July 17th, 2013. Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center Director Dr. Joshua Miele presented on "A Demonstration and Discussion of YouDescribe: A Tool for Creation of Accessible Instructional Video Materials to Support Learners With Visual Disabilities." You can find the conference agenda here, complete with PowerPoint slides from OSEP 2013 presenters, plus a described and captioned video commemorating the 35th anniversary of IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

New YouDescribe Tutorials Available on VDRDC Youtube Channel!

posted Jul 29, 2013, 3:14 PM by Jennifer Justice

YouDescribe fans! Have you taken the time to visit the VDRDC Youtube channel? Well, now is the perfect time to explore. There you will find awesome newly- posted YouDescribe tutorials and other useful video description resources. We are committed to providing our users with more ways of learning about the latest, most versatile crowd- sourced video description tool available to blind people, their friends, and family. Check out our channel and spread the word about user- generated video accessibility with YouDescribe!

Using the #ViDesc Hash Tag When Tweeting about Description

posted Jun 18, 2013, 2:35 PM by Joshua A. Miele, Ph.D

Have you ever tried to find information about video description on Twitter? It isn't easy because people don't all use the same terminology.

Folks who use Twitter already know about hash tags. They are like keywords embedded in tweets that let other people quickly search for information of interest to them.

The Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center (@VDRDC) has been using the hash tag #ViDesc to denote information about Video Description, and description in general. The letters VI can mean either video, or Vision, or Visual Impairment -- whatever the case may be, and Desc is short for Description.

The important thing is that the #ViDesc hash tag is brief, unique, and can be used to mark tweets about any kind of description. #ViDesc can be used to tag information about descriptions of videos, presentations, plays, games, movies, events, etc.

If we all use the #ViDesc hash tag to indicate information about description, Twitter users can search for #ViDesc and quickly see what the Twitter world is saying about this topic that is so important to so many of us.

The VDRDC encourages Twitter users in the description community -- whether producers or consumers -- to use the #ViDesc hash tag when tweeting about description-related stuff. This will help everyone benefit from your post even if they are not following you yet. Using #ViDesc will ultimately lead to a more unified conversation about description on Twitter, where much sharing of information and ideas takes place. It may even lead to more followers for you as folks find your feed by searching for #ViDesc.

If you are not already following the Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center, you can do so at

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