DVS (Descriptive Video Service)


This article describes DVS (Descriptive Video Service) and contains Frequently Asked Questions.


What is DVS?

The Descriptive Video Service (DVS) is a major United States producer of video description, which makes visual media, such as television programs, feature films, and home videos, more accessible to people who are blind or otherwise visually impaired. DVS often is used to describe the product itself. It is a special audio track that includes extra descriptions of what is happening on screen for the visually impaired.

What would I hear on a DVS audio track?

DVS describers watch a program and write a script describing visual elements which are important in understanding what is occurring at the time and the plot as a whole. For example, in the opening credit sequence of the children's series Arthur on PBS, the description has been performed as follows:

"Arthur is an 8-year-old aardvark. He wears round glasses with thick frames over his big eyes. He has two round ears on top of his oval-shaped head. He wears red sneakers and blue jeans, with a yellow sweater over a white shirt."

The length of descriptions and their placement by a producer into the program are largely dictated by what can fit in natural pauses in dialogue.

How do I tune in a DVS audio track?

The process is the same as selecting secondary audio for alternate language programming. (See the menu functions for the particular set-top box).

Note: On Alpha Media Players the secondary audio is accessed by pressing INFO and looking for the right side entry LANGUAGE. If the Alpha Media Player does not sense a second audio track LANGUAGE will not appear as an option.

Note: I-Guide contains a Descriptive Video Service option. However, this option is designed for Canadian cable operators only and does not support the US cable operator implementation described above.

Isn’t this a lot like closed captioning?

Yes. This is the blind or visually impaired person’s version of closed captioning.

How can I know what programs have DVS sound tracks?

As of July 2012 there are only a few selected programmers providing this service on some limited programs. You can use these links to check which programs will have DVS available:

Will all listed programs with a “DVS” indicator have a DVS audio track?

NO! Some programmers, Nickelodeon for sure, are labeling all episodes of a program that may have DVS as such. In reality only the most recent episodes of some series programs have the DVS audio track. So despite programmers’’ labels of DVS, it may not always be present.

Is DVS the official name for this service?

No. DVS is a major company that encodes the DVS audio tracks and much like Kleenex is for tissue, DVS has become a de facto name for the service. It may also be referred to as:

Audio descriptive service Video descriptive service

Does the FCC require DVS?

Yes. They first required it in the early 2000’s and it was then struck down by a court ruling. Congress specifically authorized and instructed the FCC to re-instate the requirements. Those requirements became mandatory for certain major networks and large cable systems on July 1, 2012.

Large-market broadcast affiliates of the top four national networks, and multichannel video programming distributor systems ("MVPDs") with more than 50,000 subscribers, must provide video description.

Covered broadcasters are each required to provide 50 hours of video-described prime time or children's programming, per calendar quarter, and covered MVPDs are required to provide the same number of hours on each of the five most popular non-broadcast networks.

Is BendBroadband required to carry DVS service?

No. Because we do not have more than 50,000 subscribers we are not covered by the FCC rule. However we will provide what DVS service is there and available from our programmers that does not require any specials costs or equipment.

Is there an EZ way for me to hear what this sounds like?

Yes. Just follow this link:

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