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‘It's no longer a matter of watching: I listen to a film or TV.’

Albert van der MeeExpert by experience in audio description
A portrait of Albert with a yellow block behind it, to the right of it is between yellow quotation marks: The youngest generation of people with disabilities is assertive enough and will certainly make themselves heard more.

Introduction

Albert van der Mee is 63 years old and comes from Breda, where he lives with Olga. He worked as an IT specialist at Avans Hogeschool, but has stopped working six months ago. Albert is a fanatical athlete. His specialties are shot put, hammer throw and discus throwing. He took part in the Paralympic Games in Sydney and Athens and today he still trains about five times a week. Albert has Retinitis pigmentosa (also called RP), a progressive disease of the retina. At the age of nineteen he noticed that he was becoming night blind and that his visual field was limited and he was diagnosed with RP. Because his eyesight is slowly deteriorating, he now walks with a stick. Albert can no longer read and can hardly see anything on a screen.


What do you like to watch?

‘It is no longer a matter of watching films or TV anymore: it's listening. Yet I regularly watch television, mainly for news, current affairs and documentaries. I often use a webbox for news. That is a tool that allows reading material and subtitles to be listened to and I use it for the latter. I only do this for languages ​​other than Dutch, English or German, because it takes away a lot from the experience. I also enjoy movies, for example via Netflix, but quiet films with few action scenes. I find spoken subtitles less suitable for films, for the reason just mentioned. I look for audio descriptions for every film or series, but unfortunately it is not available for every production. In fact, in my opinion, audio description is rarely available. I am also a regular user of  YouTube. I'm actually not aware if audio description is available there. I also go to the cinema sometimes. Then I think it is definitely an advantage if the Earcatch app has audio description available. I would very much welcome more English-language audio description for English-language cinema releases.’

‘The youngest generation of people with disabilities is assertive enough and will certainly make themselves heard more.’

What was a pleasant, accessible viewing experience?

‘The British The Crown on Netflix is ​​a textbook example of what audio description should be: the drama series has a clear image description, with a very pleasant narrative voice.’


What do you experience when the content you want to watch is not accessible?

‘When I want to watch something that has not been made accessible, I am disappointed. Nowadays I am increasingly inclined to send an email to the person responsible.’


What needs to be done to make video makers and content providers more aware of the need for video accessibility?

‘Workshops for both policymakers and media makers may be able to raise awareness. But as long as it is not yet legally regulated that every production must be accessible or made accessible, it will remain difficult. The target group that really depends on this is too small, I fear. One advantage is that the number of elderly people is only increasing. And the younger generation is more assertive than the current adult generation, so they will certainly make themselves heard!’

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