Op Ed with Bob Branco – Not Enough Verbal

While you watch television, how often do you hear those famous words, “Call the number on your screen”? As a blind person, don’t you find it frustrating that you can’t take part in whatever that telephone number offers the general public just because you can’t see it? I realize that the people who work behind the scenes in the television profession think visually, because of what television is all about. But executives in this profession need to further identify the audio component on television, allowing blind people to get as much information as they can from its programs. With more of a verbal emphasis, the blind will know the phone number on the screen as well as much more important information that shows up in print.

Several years ago, I would have been denied access to emergency weather conditions had my sighted friend not been watching the same program that I was, because he happened to see the warning flash on his screen. Sighted viewers of that program were visually informed of a tornado watch in my county. Had my friend not called to warn me, I would never have found out about it.

I know that the Weather Channel has made tremendous progress informing the blind of dangerous weather. For the past 10 years or so, the weather forecasts, though shown visually, are now verbally described while the music is playing in conjunction with the visual information. With that said, there is more work to be done. With respect to infomercials, I want as much of an opportunity to know what the phone number on the screen is, because I, too, may find the product or service associated with this phone number just as beneficial for me as it would for the sighted. On a more serious note, if a tornado is coming in my direction, I shouldn’t have to rely on a sighted person to call me on the phone. I should be able to hear the warning at all times. I know that weather radios and the emergency broadcast system do their share of notifying the public verbally, but I am also sure that the experience I just described about the tornado watch has happened to many of you, where the information was only shown visually during a program.

I welcome your thoughts in the Reader’s Forum.

Comments are closed.