This video shows how blind people watch TV shows using a service called audio description. I was recording this on my cell phone so that is why the quality is so bad.
July 1, 2012 marked the date for reinstatement of the mandate for video description in the USA!
Currently, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, USA, the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, TNT, and TBS are each required to provide 50 hours of video-described prime time or children’s programming per calendar quarter. PBS and TCM voluntarily provide description. Whether or not their “description track” or Secondary Audio Program (SAP) is available to you is a different question.
Local Stations: Officially, the FCC’s mandate only applies to the top 25 markets. Outside of those markets, the requirement to pass along the description is voluntary at the present time … but CALL your provider for help anyway! Many of them supply it regardless of the market. In fact, according to the FCC, although only ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates located in the top 25 markets must provide video description, any broadcast station, regardless of its market size, that is affiliated or otherwise associated with any television network, must pass through video description when the network provides it (which is essentially always done), if the station has the technical capability necessary to do so**, and that technical capability is not being used for another purpose related to the programming (for instance, Spanish language).
Satellite providers (Dish Network and DirecTV) must pass through SAP for the top five non-terrestrial networks Nick, Disney, TBS, TNT, and USA regardless of a subscriber’s location. However in the cases where a local affiliate of a terrestrial network (i.e., a local station affiliated with a network like ABC, picked up and fed as a convenience to subscribers in the area) is not broadcasting SAP, the satellite provider is not required to pass along the SAP from the stations’ networks since the satellite provider gets the signal from local stations. If the local affiliates are broadcasting video description, the satellite companies must pass that signal on to subscribers if they have the technical capability to do so**.
Cable Companies (like Comcast or Time Warner) must pass along description from the cable stations (like USA and TNT), as long as they have over 50,000 subscribers. If any local affiliate (a station picked up and passed along by the cable company) is broadcasting SAP, then they must pass that signal on to subscribers if they have the technical capability to do so**.