The Accessibility Challenge
Audio description is a service that provides people who are blind or low vision with an audio narration of the visual elements of a movie or TV show, presented during natural pauses in dialog. The technology is currently available for select film and television content and, even then, only available on a handful of media types and regions. For example, the UK DVD version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy has audio description, while the American DVD and international streaming versions do not. This disparity greatly limits the effectiveness of the audio description service and locks consumers into often outdated technologies in return for very little locally available accessible content.
The Solo-Dx Story
In response to this growing problem, Solo-Dx was created. Originally conceived at Hollywood Access Services and now operated by the Accessibility Hound team at Electro Enterprises LTD., Solo-Dx seeks to bring greater accessibility to consumers on an international level by producing and/or licensing audio description tracks for stand-alone distribution. In contrast to traditional audio description tracks, which are mixed in with the media's audio and are often difficult to enable independently, Solo-Dx exists as a separate audio file that can be manually or automatically synced to a film or TV show. This method puts the power directly in the hands of blind viewers, while also allowing them to enjoy entertainment anywhere in the company of sighted friends and family who might prefer not to hear the audio description.
As a team that has many members who love movies and are visually impaired themselves, we understand first-hand the challenges consumers requiring audio description services face. We feel that we can make a meaningful change to how these services are implemented going forward and are confident that we can help shape the entire entertainment industry by example, leading to a more accessible tomorrow for viewers everywhere.
Links on our screen-reader-friendly Solo-Dx website (www.solo-dx.com) allow customers to easily download Solo-Dx tracks via iTunes and Amazon. Since the project was launched in late 2012, we have been getting the word out to the blind community, and the feedback has been incredible! The project has even made fans of blind consumers as far away as Australia and the U.K.
Our upcoming Solo-Dx app will build upon this success by enabling the automatic syncing of tracks to their accompanying media and a convenient one stop place to browse and discover new audio description tracks.
While we truly believe that Solo-Dx is the wave of the future, we know that it will take time to grow our consumer base to the point of sustainability. In order to keep the momentum going, we need to continue building our Solo-Dx library by offering new titles in the coming months. Creating professional-grade audio description tracks costs money for the writing, narration, audio engineering and marketing outreach. We have funded all of our existing tracks by means of a crowdfunder campaign and funding from the former Hollywood Access Services (See above), and sales have increased every month. However, to continue to provide Solo-Dx while sales catch up to costs, we need your help. $11,000 will allow us to add 7 new film titles to our Solo-Dx catalog, help us launch our new apps and keep the momentum going!
Since our purchase of the Hollywood Access Services' Solo-Dx project in April, we have been investigating ways in which we can bring a new level of audio description access to the blind community. The result of this research is the Solo-Dx Store, launching this August, where movie and TV series fans can browse and download audio description tracks for their favourite films and TV episodes. To fund the store's development, as well as the production of future tracks, we at Accessibility Hound have put together the following perks that we hope will help you promote your products, non-profit organization, band, website or any other project you may be involved with. The full list of perks can be found below the following notes:
- Bonus: With any perk, you will also receive a link to a organization, website, blog or any other project you support from our contributor's page. The name that appears on the link is entirely customizable. All we ask is that you keep the name and link family friendly.
- The video above was produced by Hollywood Access Services as promotional material for the Solo-Dx project. Accessibility Hound, operated by Electro Enterprises LTD., acquired the Solo-Dx project in April 2014 and continues the work done by Hollywood Access Services. We are, however, our own company.
- If we reach our goal, we may be able to produce our first ever set of free to listen audio description tracks. We believe strongly that audio description, like many other accessibility-related technologies, should be free to its end users who already pay for the mainstream media they require description for.
- Please note that if we exceed our goal, we are looking to hire and train more blind narrators. As one of the few studios who has staff with visual impairments in key managerial and production roles, we wish to provide equal opportunities for those wishing to narrate for us. We have already work with narrators who are visually impaired and would like to grow the team.
- Please note that we will be donating 30% of proceeds, fees we normally pay to iTunes/Amazon when we distribute tracks, to the Camp Bowen project, a summer camp and independent learning skills program for Canadians who are visually impaired. We share some key team members between both projects and feel it is a good fit. Besides, Apple and Amazon won't benefit as much as the camps will.