Varsity Theatre to show “Toy Story” formatted for the blind



    The sunset warms the deck of Cameron’s Titanic and Spielberg’s fearsome tooth-filled roar of a Tyrannosaurus increases viewers heart rates. But, for many people, these unforgettable Hollywood moments can only be seen with their ears.

    On Friday night, to close Disability Awareness Week, “Toy Story” will be showing at the Varsity Theatre, in two free showings, at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., both formatted for the blind. Drinks and popcorn are included in the complementary evening.

    Rochelle Rabe, coordinator for students with physical disabilities, said the movie is for club night.

    “The reason for having it is to create awareness of disabilities in an activity where everyone on campus can participate,” she said.

    C.J. Sampson, president of Vision Beyond Sight, cosponsor of the event, says that this is the fourth time a movie for the blind has been shown on campus.

    Sampson sees the inclusion of the movie in the week’s events as a positive thing because it allowed more people to participate and enjoy free concessions.

    last year the event only gathered an audience of 100 people, but Sampson recalled that it was in a smaller room and thinks that using the Varsity Theatre will summon a larger crowd.

    “It allows you to experience a movie in a way that you never have before, but in a way that blind people always do,” Sampson said.

    WGBH, a PBS Station in Boston, has been extensively involved in the research, development, and national implementation of Descriptive Video Service (DVS), the system used to adapt movies and television programs for the consumption of the visually impaired.

    “DVS provides narrated descriptions of the key visual elements without interfering with the audio or dialogue of a program or movie,” explains WGBH, “the narration describes visual elements such as actions, settings, body language and graphics.”

    But, narrated programming has a universal appeal for both the sighted and visually impaired

    Another organization, the Narrative Television Network, has received many national awards, including an Emmy, for their development of video narrative technology.

    Though aimed to make movies, television programs, and even Broadway productions more accessible to the estimated 13 million visually impaired Americans, NTN estimates that 60% of their audience are sighted people who enjoy the programming.

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