Descriptive Narration
descriptive video icon

Descriptive Video Service (DVS) is a national service that makes television programs, movies and other visual media accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. DVS provides narrated descriptions of the key visual elements without interfering with the audio or dialogue of a program or movie. The narration describes visual elements such as actions, settings, body language and graphics. DVS was launched nationally in 1990 by the WGBH Educational Foundation, producer of many prime time public television programs and leader in the development of accessible media.

A viewer must live within range of a station that carries DVS.  For information about accessing DVS with a digital television, and your specific equipment and service combination, click here and download the document, "Digital Television and Video Description:Service Continues, Consumer and Industry Efforts Required" found under the Resources section.

DVS broadcasts are regularly available on CBS, Fox, PBS, Nickelodean and Turner Classic Movies. 

For a complete list of films available with DVS, and for theaters across America that are accessible, click here. 

For more information on DVS, click here for the Media Access Group at WGBH.

Motion Picture Access Project

The Motion Picture Access Project was launched in 1992 to research and develop ways of making movies in theaters accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired people through closed captions and descriptive narrations.  

The Rear Window® Captioning System displays captions for those who need or desire them without displaying the to the entire audience.  It provides reversed captions on a light-emitting diode (LED) text display, which is mounted at the rear of a theater. Deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons use transparent acrylic panels attached to their seats to reflect the captions so they appear superimposed on the movie screen. The reflective panels are portable and adjustable, enabling the caption user to sit anywhere in the theater. (Of course, the captions must first be produced for each film.)

DVS Theatrical® delivers descriptive narration via infrared or FM listening systems, enabling blind and visually impaired moviegoers to hear descriptive narration on headsets without disturbing other audience members. The narrative description includes information about key visual elements that enhance the meaning of a production (settings, scene changes, action, etc.).

These technologies are available in large-format movie theaters and theme parks as well as conventional movie theaters. General Cinema in Sherman Oaks, California, aired the first movie with Rear Window® Captioning and DVS Theatrical® descriptive narration in November 1997. The film, by Universal Pictures, was The Jackal, starring Richard Gere, Bruce Willis and Sidney Poitier.

The best part about this dual system is that equipment is in place in some general cinema theatres such as AMC.  Click here to use the theatre locator to find an AMC near you and check that theatre's Accessible Movie link at the bottom of the page to determine if that theatre offers assistive listening devices, Rear Window® or closed captioning devices, descriptive video headsets and wheelchair spaces.   

Widespread proliferation of the new technologies is expected to revolutionize the movie experience for the nation's 34 million people with hearing or vision loss. The production of captioned films is expected to also greatly increase as movie distributors and theater operators are made more aware of the demand for them (and subsequent profit).

General Cinema at the Yorktown Theater in Lombard, Illinois, (now the AMC Yorktown) was the first movie theater to install the system in the Chicago area. 



This is a search engine that helps you locate theaters with accessible options. Simply click the location link in the top right corner, enter your zip code and the website will provide a listing of theaters within 60 miles of that zipcode. Click each link to determine if there are accessible showings. Click here to determine what the caption acronyms mean. 


Audio Description International
ADI, Audio Description International, supports and advocates increased use of Audio Description (AD) in a variety of media around the world. The members of AD International are both professional and amateur Audio Describers, AD consumers, and those interested in promoting the use of AD.