Comcast NBCUniversal Makes 2016 Summer Olympic Games Accessible to People with Vision Loss through Live Description


NBC offers live description of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For the first time in U.S. history, people who are blind or visually impaired will be able to fully participate in watching everything from swimming to gymnastics to basketball.

Live video description of NBC’s Primetime show is available across the country on local NBC stations on the SAP (Secondary Audio Program) audio feed.

“We are delighted that Comcast NBCUniversal (No. 29 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) is making this beloved international event accessible to millions of Americans with vision loss,” said Kirk Adams, president & CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. “This is yet another example of the company’s commitment to helping people with vision loss access pop culture, sports and news.”

Description enhances the magic of television for people with vision loss. Short verbal descriptions of action or key visual scenes in a program, such as the setting, costumes, and facial expressions, are added to enhance enjoyment and convey information. Video description helps people who are blind or visually impaired to gain more complete access to the content of TV programs and movies and thereby more fully participate in society.

Paul Schroeder, AFB’s Vice President of Programs and Policy, said, “The Olympics have always been a special and highly anticipated event for me. But I never dreamed that I would be able to follow the details of the spectacular competitions as they unfold with a skilled narrator putting me in the center of the action. I can’t wait to tune in to the Rio Games.”

Comcast cable customers with XFINITY X1 can explore Olympics content using accessibility features like Voice Guidance, the XFINITY Voice Remote and video description settings.

Under a law enacted in 2010, major television networks began airing a selection of primetime shows with video description in 2012. However, live programming like sports was not required. Comcast NBCUniversal is adding another “gold medal” first in access for people with vision loss by describing the sports competition. In June, the American Foundation for the Blind honored Comcast Corporation with a Helen Keller Achievement Award for its leadership in accessibility.

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