Talking menus

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Human Rights Commission releases Australia’s first fully-accessible DVD

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Twenty Years: Twenty Stories is a video project initiated by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) which celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA). The DVD release, as well as having captioning and audio description, will also feature spoken menus – an Australian first. 

Each of the twenty videos, which were produced in association with the Sydney Community Foundation, tells the story of a disabled person who managed to bring about systemic change by making a DDA complaint. The videos, created by both professional filmmakers and community groups, were made possible by donations from government and commercial enterprises. Captioning of the videos was funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs’ Captioning Grant, which is administered by Media Access Australia.

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DVDs with audio menus

DVD discs themselves offer a method of choosing the audio track through the disc’s own menu system. However, these menus vary from title to title and most do not talk, making it difficult for a blind user to select the AD independently. 

Audio menus are DVD menus that narrate the options to a viewer from the moment you insert the disc into your DVD player. They assist you to navigate through the menu options to select the options you wish, including AD. The development of audio menus, also called audio navigation, is still in its infancy both in Australia and internationally.

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Audio described DVDs on the rise in USA


The Audio Description Project in the USA has reported a record count of described DVDs for 2010.

The preliminary count is a whopping 48, far outpacing the entire history of described first-run movie DVDs from 2000 to 2009.

The increase is primarily due to the commitment of Sony, Universal Pictures and Disney to transfer description from movies described for cinema release to their DVD releases. Universal, however, has not committed to making the description available on all rental versions. Amazon USA is still not listing information confirming description, unlike Amazon’s UK site.

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