Blind Bargains

#ATIA19 Audio: There Is More Described And Captioned Media Out There Thanks To The DCMP

Many of us consider the rise of Audio Description and Caption services as something that came about recently. However, what if we told you that early forms of these services date back to 1958? In this interview Kyle Sisk, Information Systems Manager for the Described and Captioned Media program, provides J.J. a look at how accessible content goes all the way back to the 16 millimeter film strip. Kyle then talks about how the DCMP is one of the largest creators of educational based described and captioned content currently through more modern delivery services like the web, iOS app and even a Roku Channel. Tune in to hear how the DCMP has worked with Netflix and how you can become a member of their free services. If you would like to know more, visit the DCMP website

ATIA 2019 coverage is Brought to you by AFB AccessWorld.

For the latest news and accessibility information on mainstream and access technology, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon offerings, access technology book reviews, and mobile apps, and how they can enhance entertainment, education and employment, log on to AccessWorld, the American Foundation for the Blind's free, monthly, online technology magazine. Visit


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Transcribed by Grecia Ramirez

From beautiful Orlando, Florida, it’s coverage of ATIA 2019, brought to you by AFB AccessWorld.
For the latest news and accessibility information on mainstream and access technology; Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon offerings; access technology; book reviews; and mobile apps and how they can enhance entertainment, education, and employment, log onto AccessWorld, the American Foundation for the Blind's free monthly online technology magazine.
Now, here’s J.J. Meddaugh.
J.J. MEDDAUGH: ATIA 2019. I have found Kyle Sisk. He’s the Information Systems Manager for the Described Caption and Media content. Hey. If you are an eligible person, you might be able to watch a whole bunch of really cool kids’, children’s, educational television programs for free.
Welcome to the podcast.
Kyle Sisk: Hey. Thank you for having me.
JM: So I know I kind of just blew some of your news there, but go ahead.
KS: No. No. That’s great.
JM: Tell us about the DCMP.
KS: So the Described and Caption Media Program, we have been around for a while, since 1958, believe it or not. Back then, they mailed out 16-millimeter films with captioning.
JM: Yeah?
KS: And – yeah. It’s crazy. And then, over the years, the program has evolved, went to –
JM: I hope so.
KS: Yeah. A little. So to VHS, DVD, and then eventually, to streaming. And so today, we have one of the largest libraries of accessible educational content in the world.
JM: So I was looking at – there are a lot of different PBS serieses and other educational shows and –
KS: Yeah. Yeah. We – so we license from a ton of different people -- PBS, ENE, History, independent producers – just all over the map. Just all kinds of content. It’s all captioned. And then as – also described as well.
JM: And most of the content is described, you said, and all of it is captioned?
KS: Yeah. So all of it is captioned. Anything we did prior to 2006 doesn’t have description yet. Actually, we’ve gone back and filled in some of those gaps. But any new content has description. There are thousands with description.
JM: Okay. So you go to the website, you can search or browse or whatever. And you do have to become a member. How does that work?
KS: Yeah. So basically, we serve kids who are pre-K through 12th grade. And so if you’re a parent, a teacher, a service professional that works with those students, you qualify. So a student that is – that has some sensory disability – deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind – we serve them. So basically, any of those categories.
JM: If you’re a blind adult – well, I guess you’d have to have either a blind kid or a sensory disabled kid or be working in the field?
KS: Right.
JM: Right.
KS: Yes.
JM: That’s how you would accomplish it. And it’s a free program?
KS: 100 percent free. Yeah. We’re funded by a Department of Education grant, and it’s been free all these years.
JM: Do you typically access it on the web? Actually, I noticed you had a Roku over there.
KS: Yeah. So the website is a great place. It is responsive, so it works on, you know, computers or mobile devices. It works great on all of them. And also we have a native IOS app, so iPad, iPhone. Working on Android, and currently have a Roku channel, and we’re working on TV -- Apple TV, so TV OS.
JM: What’s the process like for applying, and how long does it take to get approved?
KS: Oh man. It’s a really simple process. We just take basic demographic information. We don’t need specific names or children that you’re serving. But, you know, if you’re a parent. We just take your name, your Email address, and the name and age and type of disability. And that’s pretty much it. So we’re just kind of taking your word that we’re serving a kid who needs our service.
JM: And how often is new content added?
KS: Okay. So we add 3- to 500 hours of content a year.
JM: Wow.
KS: So we’re adding – literally, some days, we’re adding 20, 30 titles.
JM: All depends on what you describe, because a lot of the content also airs other places; right? Like, you were telling me – like, for instance, Magic School Bus is on Netflix.
KS: Yes. Matter fact, funny story. Netflix actually contacted us and got our description. So the description on Netflix, we produced.
JM: That’s interesting, you know. So they asked you for permission to –
KS: Yeah.
JM: -- to provide that up there?
KS: Did the tables turn, huh?
JM: So they aren’t necessarily always just describing their own stuff, they’re just trying to track it down sometimes and –
KS: Sure. Sure. Well, and, you know, part of their requirement for new content is that a lot of it has to be described. And so they really are doing a good job of asking producers and distributors to provide them with description prior to them even launching.
JM: Sure. Why recreate it if it already exists –
KS: Yeah. Exactly.
JM: -- and it’s already done well?
KS: Yeah.
JM: Great. If people want to get more information or to sign up, what’s the website?
KS: It is
JM: Thank you so much. We appreciate it.
KS: Hey. Thank you.
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Joe Steinkamp is no stranger to the world of technology, having been a user of video magnification and blindness related electronic devices since 1979. Joe has worked in radio, retail management and Vocational Rehabilitation for blind and low vision individuals in Texas. He has been writing about the A.T. Industry for 15 years and podcasting about it for almost a decade.

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