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“Viewing films should not be our privilege, it should be a right for everyone.”

Wong believes the hard work is worthwhile because, “viewing films should not be our privilege, it should be a right for everyone.” Both he and Pang volunteer their services for the Hong Kong Society for the Blind (HKSB).

HKSB pioneered audio description services in Hong Kong and started producing live audio descriptions for movies in 2009. Since then, there have been 77 screenings of films with audio descriptions in the HKSB’s purpose-built assembly hall. The society has recruited 50 volunteers.

According to Emily Chan Lai-yee, the manager of HKSB, the service offers another form of entertainment for the blind. It encourages them to participate in mainstream activities.

Chan says getting operations off the ground was no easy task. At the beginning, she just flew by the seat of her pants. They had no idea of what to describe and how to convey action and details in the films. When Jacqueline Pang Ching started off, she narrated without scripts.

After Create Hong Kong funded the project for a year, HKSB was able to invite foreign experts and hold workshops to promote audio description in movies. Last year, they recruited volunteers for training and developed a more sophisticated system for producing audio descriptions. They now rely on scripts and time their lines precisely to avoid the overlapping of narration and dialogue.

As the number of skilled narrators increases, Chan looks forward to the day when audio description services will be available on public television channels. It would be good news for the 120,000 blind people in Hong Kong.

She also hopes audio description services can be expanded from indoor movie screenings to DVDs. HKSB encourages DVD distributors to include the audio description function for their films. Three DVD titles with audio description distributed by Warner Brothers (Far East) Inc. are Aftershock, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart and Life Without Principle.