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‘The first two seconds of a series, when that red 'N' from Netflix comes into view, with that 'tuduu' boom behind it: wonderful!’

Ferry MolenaarExpert by experience in audio description
Portrait of Ferry surrounded by a yellow field. To the right of the portrait, between yellow quotes, is written: A hilarious variation on the thumbs down phenomenon: having a bunch of blind people watch viral videos on video.

Introduction

Ferry Molenaar is 33 years old and lives in Zeist. He is a creative entrepreneur and, as a Podcast Creator, helps other entrepreneurs create podcasts. These can be art and culture institutions, but also start-ups or SMEs. Ferry made the inclusive podcast series De Beeldspieker with Scribit.Pro. In this podcast Ferry takes the listener into his experience as a blind visitor to a museum or cultural institution in his own country. Museum employees try to give as complete a picture as possible of the works of art, the exhibition and the location by describing them. Ferry also lends his voice to media productions, audio tours and commercials. In addition, he uses his experience as a blind maker to help others make their website, app or digital documents digitally accessible. Ferry became blind twelve years ago due to aniridia: an eye condition in which the iris is partially or completely missing.


What do you like to watch?

‘I actually only watch movies and series on demand, with audio description. Exceptionally, when there is a program on TV that you really shouldn't miss, I sometimes let myself be tempted to watch television. As in the case for Wie is de Mol? But otherwise I use streaming services and then specifically Netflix. At HBO Max and Paramount + it is still bad with audio description. Videoland and NLZIET do absolutely nothing with audio description, which I find deeply sad.

I mainly watch English productions, with English audio description. Very occasionally I also watch Dutch series, if they can interest me. I sometimes use the Earcatch app (which plays audio descriptions when playing movies and series), but from the comfort of my own chair. I hardly go to the cinema.’


A hilarious variant on the thumbs down phenomenon: having a bunch of blind people watch viral videos on video.


What was a pleasant, accessible viewing experience?

‘That's easy: definitely Netflix. All Netflix Originals (all productions that Netflix produces itself and that cannot be found on other streaming services) are provided with audio description. That is a huge advantage for a blind or partially sighted person – not to mention a pleasant feeling.

The first two seconds of a movie or series, when that red 'N' from Netflix comes into view, with that 'tuduu' boom behind it: wonderful! That is a magical moment for me. I then know that I am about to enjoy a movie or series that can offer me, as a blind viewer, a full viewing experience because it contains image description. I don't have to do anything because I know the audio description is available. I don't have to search or get started myself. It's play and done.

That's why I'm happy with the Scribit.Pro plug-in. Now that I have it installed, I never have to search for online video accessibility files again. The plug-in ensures that they appear automatically, if they are available.’

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

‘That depends on what content it is. Sometimes you miss only part of the content and fill in the rest yourself, sometimes you can't make sense of it. News is usually nice to follow. Entertainment that is not accessible, I pass by. But with a tutorial or a video that goes viral, I find that more difficult. Then the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) takes over and I feel I have no choice but to watch the production anyway, without support. Or it must be my friends, who I have to ask later what exactly was the joke in that viral video. Such a video completely misses the mark. Yet this scene happens often, because I refuse to resign myself to the situation. I always say: I choose the best of the worst.’


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

‘The period of raising awareness and enthusing makers may well be over. I think the Netherlands is too sweet in this, but also too lax. Neighboring countries such as Belgium and the United Kingdom are much more advanced in terms of media accessibility. In some cases it may hinder or limit the artistic freedom of the makers, but I still think that the idea that media should simply be accessible to everyone, carries more weight and is more convincing.

Audio description and subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing should simply be integrated everywhere. With digital TV it must be technically possible to create an extra sound track for a picture description. Commercial, but also provincial broadcasters have a huge amount of money available. Such broadcasters should be required to provide a certain percentage, say 25 percent, of their pre-recorded productions with audio description and subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing. If they do not comply with the agreements, fines must be imposed.

Content creators are also entrepreneurs and therefore, in my view, have moral obligations, just like other entrepreneurs. They should be made aware of their responsibility. Every maker or provider that is supervised by the Media Authority should be obliged to offer accessible content.

Or how about this? Install a camera and have several blind people watch viral videos. It immediately becomes clear how little they get from a video. Put all these experiences together and send that video to the relevant content creators. Social media is all about likes, comments and thumbs up. In my opinion, this is a hilarious variant of the thumbs down phenomenon. I think it's the funniest invention of the century. And humor is still the best way to connect people.’   

Take a look here vanferry.nl and discover what Ferry can do for your media production.

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