NBC Olympics, Comcast to Offer Video Descriptions for Winter Olympics TV Coverage

NBC Olympics and Comcast said they are teaming with Descriptive Video Works to provide video description services (VDS) to help the blind and those with visual disabilities follow the action of NBC’s TV coverage of the Winter Games.

VDS features the use of short verbal descriptions of action or key video scenes to add context to programing for individuals with a visual disability. The integrated narration of the visuals will include descriptions of elements such as actions, facial expressions, clothing, event locations and on-screen graphics, they said.

Update: As readers on the message board indicate, the settings of some customers might be set to having the voice description feature activated, and are having trouble figuring out how to adjust that setting. Comcast has outlined several ways to turn that setting on and off here.

This will mark the second time NBC Olympics and Comcast have provided description video presentations for the games, as it follows similar work was done for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. VDS was also used for NBC’s production of The Wiz Live! in December 2015.

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For the PyeongChang Games, NBC Olympics will present video description to accompany 18 primetime telecasts, including the Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony. Descriptive video will also be incorporated into the live broadcasts, as well as NBC’s VOD offerings from the Games.

“The excitement and pageantry of the Olympics is something that all viewers should be able to experience,” Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, said in a statement. “The increased access provided by our VDS coverage will allow even more people to share in the stories and excitement of the PyeongChang Games. We are pleased to work with Comcast to provide more accessible coverage for Olympic fans than ever before, and offer this important enhancement to our coverage for people with visual disabilities.” 

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“NBC has become a pioneer in making live entertainment and sporting events more accessible for millions of people like me, and there is no bigger opportunity to demonstrate the impact of that work than the Olympics,” added Tom Wlodkowski, Comcast’s VP of accessibility, who is blind himself. “When accessible content is complemented with navigation and search technologies like our Xfinity X1 voice control and voice guidance, people with visual disabilities can have an end-to-end experience that is even more inclusive, independent and entertaining.”