Review of Actiview: An App That Makes Moviegoing More Accessible

In last week’s Sandy’s View post, guest blogger Brett Shishkoff shared his experience and thoughts on enjoying “A Christmas Carol” with both a touch tour and audio description. Other forms of entertainment, such as movies and TV shows, are also accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired thanks to an audio description. This week, I will share my moviegoing experience using Actiview, a recently developed mobile app which provides audio description for those with vision loss, as well as closed captions, amplified audio and sign language interpretation for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. I recently went to the movies to watch Coco with an audio description using this app.

How Does Actiview Work?

At this time, the Actiview app is only available for iOS devices. After installing the app on an iPhone or iPad, users create a login username and password. Once logged in, a list of the available movies appears. There are currently six movies with audio description, closed captions, amplified audio and sign language interpretation. These include Wonderstruck, Coco and Breathe. Once a movie is selected from the list, the app displays the available accessibility options. Users can then download the content they need, either by using their cellular data or other Wi-Fi network. Once the desired movie is playing, either at the movie theater or at home, the audio description (or whichever accessibility option was selected) will sync with the movie. You can now sit back and enjoy the fully accessible movie! Below is a screenshot of the services available for viewing Coco with Actiview.

Screenshot of services available for watching Coco with the Actiview app.

My Thoughts

Without a doubt, using Actiview to watch Coco with audio description was simple and fun. After arriving at the movie theater, I did not have to spend extra time requesting or waiting for an audio description headset, which several theaters offer for its blind or visually impaired guests. I had also purchased my tickets in advance, so I was able to go right into the theater without having to wait in line. This turned out to be convenient, as I was running behind and made it just in time for the beginning of the movie! The syncing of the audio description only took about 15-20 seconds, and I was able to hear it using my own earbuds without any difficulties. This way I wouldn’t disturb my fellow moviegoers.

As far as the movie itself, I enjoyed Coco very much! Besides being entertaining, it also taught me a thing or two about the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico and other Latin-American countries. As with other Disney/Pixar movies, Coco consisted of a lot of animation, so the audio description was essential for me to fully understand the film.

Actiview is just another example of how technology continues to help people with disabilities. Thanks to this app, those of us with visual impairments or who are deaf or hard of hearing can have more accessibility when watching movies. Using the app is accessible and a flawless process. I hope that more movies are added to the app’s collection in the near future, so we can continue to enjoy fully accessible moviegoing experiences. We all deserve to have accessible entertainment, and apps like Actiview are helping us get even closer to achieving that goal.

Have you used the Actiview or similar apps to enjoy movies with audio description? Please comment with your experience, or send an email to sandysview@chicagolighthouse.org. Happy accessible moviegoing!

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Making Movie Watching Accessible to Anyone

During a recent outing to the movies, I requested audio description service at the theater. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, audio description is the narration of what is happening in a movie, TV show or play. It can help those of us without sight keep up with what is going on, especially in movies and shows with little dialogue. I had done my research, and knew that the theater I was visiting offered a special headset, through which I could hear the audio description commentary without interrupting other moviegoers. The staff knew exactly what I was talking about, and handed me the headset. Much to my disappointment, however, I realized that the audio descriptions were not working as soon as I put the headset on.

This, unfortunately, is an all too common scenario for blind and visually impaired moviegoers throughout the United States. A new startup company is working to change the experience of people with disabilities. Actiview is a recently launched smartphone app which will provide audio descriptions and closed captions of movies for people who are blind or hearing impaired. Best of all, no extra or special equipment is required. Users simply install the Actiview app on their smartphone, and select audio descriptions or closed captions for the desired movie. The app was recently launched with the debut of Cars 3.

Other developers around the world have been working on similar technologies. Last year, the Disney Movies Anywhere app began providing audio description for some of its movies. Thanks to this app, I was able to fully enjoy Finding Dory at the movie theater last year. For the first time, I could watch a movie without having to worry about whether or not audio description was available at the theater. By using my iPhone and earbuds, I could listen to the audio description. If the Disney Movies Anywhere app is an indication of how Actiview will help those of us with disabilities in the near future, it is sure to become a game changer for moviegoers around the world!

We have seen time and time again how modern technology is providing equal access to people with disabilities. Thanks to apps like Actiview and Disney Movies Anywhere, individuals who are blind will have greater access to the movies. We will no longer have to scope out or be limited to movie theaters which offer audio description. Most importantly, I hope that more movie producers will take the needs of people who are blind or hearing impaired into consideration. By providing audio descriptions and closed captions for movies, everyone will be able to access and enjoy new releases. Going to the movies is an activity enjoyed by many, let’s make it more inclusive and accessible for everyone!