[LINK] Fwd: vip-l: Accessibility Review of Dr Who Series Two, DVD Boxed Set - Christmas Option?

Jan Whitaker jwhit at melbpc.org.au
Thu Dec 21 09:49:05 AEDT 2006

forwarded with permission. I thought the interface description was 
quite interesting. If any linkers are involved in multimedia items 
like DVDs, this aspect of accessibility may be of interest.

>Access Review
>Doctor Who, Series Two
>DVD Box Set Release
>Reviewed by Tim Noonan
>Tim Noonan Consulting Pty Ltd - Excellence in Accessibility and Usability
>tim at timnoonan.com.au
>19 December, 2006
>Recently I was asked by Media Access Australia if I would like to 
>review the Australian RoadShow Entertainment release of BBC's
>DVD box set of Doctor Who Series 2. Having been a long-term surround 
>sound home theatre advocate, a Sci-Fi buff and because my
>household does not include a sighted person, I was very excited to 
>try the new release out!
>The irony, frustration and disappointment still remains sharp in my 
>memory from a situation a year or so back, where my vision
>impaired brother, his blind partner and I decided to 'watch' Ray, 
>the Ray Charles movie, on DVD. We probably spent over half an
>hour, trying, guessing (and no doubt swearing) to actually get the 
>movie, and not the copyright and extra features information
>to play, but all to no avail.
>And so, with a blend of optimism and uncertainty, I was keen to see 
>if this experience might turn out a little more joyfully.
>Packaging and Labelling
>To the touch, this boxed set is pretty cool. The surface of the box 
>feels a bit like the grooves on a vinyl record, with a matte
>finish.  The box contains two three-fold DVD holders and some 
>printed information.
>I noticed  the DVD holders and DVDs don't contain any tactile 
>markings to indicate which disc is which, but . read on.
>My Audio-Visual Set-up
>I have a 5.1 channel surround sound system, made up of a variety of 
>components, with a Pioneer DVD player.
>Being an audio-file, I enjoyed some of the quite elaborate and rich 
>sound-scapes which allow the listener to immerse into the
>atmosphere of the movie.  This, for me, is one of the pluses of DVDs 
>over older magnetic tape options. It means that if I am
>'watching' a DVD with sighted friends, that I am getting something 
>more than just dialogue out of the experience.
>Loading a DVD
>Imagine my amazement and excitement when I selected one of the DVDs 
>at random (well I thought it might be disc 1, but didn't
>know) only to hear the disc spin up and a clear voice announce:
>"Doctor Who, Series Two, Disc 4."
>"If you would like audio menus, press the enter key now."
>So, clearly I had the wrong DVD in the player, but . yes, as you 
>might imagine, I was too eager to hear what the talking menus
>were like, to go find the first DVD!
>This was very cool indeed, and how I dream technology in 2006 
>should/could always work - additional redundant information that
>gives audio and visual guidance to the user.
>As it happens I always forget what buttons are what on my DVD 
>remote, but I figured the round button, with arrows round it was
>the 'enter' button being referred to, so I hurriedly pressed it, to 
>hear what would happen next.
>Audio Menus
>Once you get the hang of it, navigating the audio menus is very easy 
>and quite straight forward.  Menus wrap, and each option is
>spoken in a clear, recorded female voice.  Note that the menus are 
>implemented on the DVD, so they should work on any DVD
>To navigate the menus, you use the up and down arrow keys, and press 
>the enter key to select the item just announced.
>Main menu choices include:
>Play all;
>Episode select;
>Feature options;
>Audio options; and
>Audio options is the most interesting sub-menu.  Here you can choose 
>from four options:
>Turn Feature audio on -
>this is for standard 5.1 channel surround sound, the standard audio 
>option for the DVDs.
>Turn Commentary on -
>This turns on the producer's commentary on the episode.
>Turn Audio Description on -
>This option allows you to hear the DVD sound-track, plus a person 
>describing action that isn't obvious through the dialogue
>Return to main menu -
>Takes you back to the opening speaking menu.
>Note that if you appreciate the full 5.1 audio experience, with 
>surround sound, you will have to somewhat sacrifice this for a
>lower quality stereo mix, with the audio descriptions dubbed 
>in.  It's more informative, but it isn't nearly so impressive and
>its audio impact is diminished.
>I imagine that these are trade-offs required to work within the DVD 
>format specification, and perhaps future generations of
>technology could provide the description track alone, rather than a 
>stereo mix of the DVD audio plus the descriptions.
>Having said the above, however, it is a lot better than not having 
>the choice of audio description for the episodes!
>If you have a good surround sound system, and are viewing the DVD 
>with sighted friends, you may opt to have the original feature
>audio, and check in with someone else about key actions, the choice 
>is yours. Sighted viewers may get frustrated with the audio
>description, which is quite in the foreground.
>In Conclusion
>In conclusion this set is fabulous:
>.       You can tell what DVD boxed set it is from its cool textured box;
>.       You can find the DVD you want to listen to, because each DVD 
>tells you its number;
>.       You can activate and fully navigate the DVD menus without 
>sight, with the well thought-out and clear spoken menus; and
>.       You can enable or disable the audio description of all the 
>non-dialogue goings-on, credits etc.
>So, if you are looking for a coolly accessible DVD Christmas 
>present, this may well fit the bill.  It is a shame that series one
>doesn't have this level of accessibility - certainly it doesn't have 
>the audio DVD labelling and talking menus, and I am not
>clear on whether it contains audio description.
>The Royal National Institute of the Blind and the BBC should indeed 
>be very proud of this exciting and highly accessible DVD
>release! Let's hope it is the first of many, and that other Audio 
>Visual publishers follow their innovative lead.
>Tim Noonan
>Tim Noonan Consulting Pty Ltd: Excellence in Accessibility and Usability
>+61 419 779 669
>tim at timnoonan.com.au

Jan Whitaker
JLWhitaker Associates, Melbourne Victoria
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com
personal: http://www.janwhitaker.com/personal/
commentary: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/

'Seed planting is often the most important step. Without the seed, 
there is no plant.' - JW, April 2005
_ __________________ _

More information about the Link mailing list