A transformative day at the Training School for the Blind, Guide Dog I.A.P.

Have you ever considered how different your day-to-day experiences would be if you were visually impaired? Our Mexico City-based Managing Director, Alejandra Valdez, wanted to ensure her team would better understand exactly that.

It wasn’t a typical day at the studios. The team were on their way to Escuela para Entrenamiento de Perros Guía para Ciegos I.A.P. to spend the day immersing themselves in activities, replicating walking, eating and communicating when blind or with limited vision. Interacting with guide dogs. Learning the basics of braille. Undertaking daily tasks they usually wouldn’t think twice about. Their aim? To increase their understanding – building a stronger knowledge of regulations and codes of conduct – in support of furthering the inclusion of this community when it comes to entertainment.


So how does this apply to localisation?

We don’t all experience entertainment in the same way. Over 430 million people have disabling hearing loss according to the World Health Organization and at least 2.2 billion have a near or distance vision impairment. These figures highlight just how important it is for film and television to consider access services, so every moment on screen can be meaningful for everyone.

When working on content requiring access services, at VSI we’ve always had one goal: for hearing or visually impaired audiences to have the same immersive experience as a hearing or sighted audience. Most of us cannot imagine going through life without the ability to hear or to see. And this sensory deprivation experience was invaluable for our team in Mexico City, increasing their overall sensitivity towards this audience segment and bolstering their empathy for what is important when creating audio description.  

To us, access services isn’t a checklist requirement. It’s an important opportunity to help our customers engage deeply with this underserved audience that can typically be overlooked. We ensure everyone from studio management through to our production teams are sensitive to the specific needs of the d/Deaf, hard-of-hearing and visually impaired communities.

What our team learnt from the immersive experience


This experience reinforced how often we take sight for granted. I felt unsure completing activities I do every day of my life and often found myself struggling. It made me reflect more on AD and whether the versions we create as an industry are what is needed for this audience. We need to use the privileges we have to create space for everyone and ensure they feel included, understood and valued.

Teté Carmona
Talent Coordinator, Mexico City

It's one of the most emotional experiences I've had. It helped us continue to foster and develop empathy. It was a good reminder there are tools out there to help the blind community enjoy various activities. But it's not just up to the streaming platforms and studios to make sure this happens in entertainment. It's up to all of us to help ensure inclusivity.

Sonia Santiago Macías
Project Manager, Mexico City

Why involve sighted and visually impaired individuals when creating audio description?

Well, why wouldn’t we? People working on AD files need to be conscious of anything in a scene that might be necessary to better understand the plot. Their descriptions must be very precise and concise so they don’t infringe on dialogue or overwhelm the audience with too much information. Timing and delivery is everything. The pacing should be pleasant for the listener and the describing voice almost inconspicuous. Many AD projects involve blind or visually impaired co-authors in the creation and QC process, mostly at the scripting stage, as they can best judge which visual information is necessary to follow a storyline and which is dispensable. VSI Berlin recently created AD for Warner Bros. Discovery’s hit series Para – We Are King, working with sighted and visually impaired co-authors to support the script creation for English and German audiences. By involving our target audiences from the start, we ensure we create an audio description that resonates every time. 

Alejandra Valdez is committed to progressing the effectiveness of AD in content localisation for Latin America, involving both the audience and automation throughout the workflow. She shares her thoughts below. 


Having the opportunity to bring joy to visually impaired audiences is incredibly motivating. I want to ensure my team understand the impact by detaching our innate biases through this activity. Silvia, the founder of TSBGD, lost her sight aged 3 and said with AD, she still gets to see movies. This is why it’s so important to ensure the content we localise works for the audience. Content is for them and they should be part of its creation.

Alejandra Valdez
Managing Director, Mexico City

What are the key considerations for incorporating AI in the AD workflow?

We can’t discount the impact technology and AI will have on access services moving forward. Some LSPs are looking to synthetic voices to support their AD outputs. AD scripting tools leveraging AI are being built into timed text systems, making it an integral part of the localisation process from the start. But when incorporating AI, we must weigh the advantages of the perceived time and cost savings against the potential drawbacks: the risk of misinterpretation and mispronunciation, limitations in accurately capturing contextual nuances and emotions, cultural and audience sensitivity, the impact on our talent pools and need for heavy QC. Striking the right balance between utilising AI and utilising human skills is critical in maintaining the integrity of this service. Regardless of the route taken, one thing is clear: quality is key to delivering an impactful audience experience.


Looking to the future

More and more, accessibility is becoming a norm within media localisation rather than an afterthought. To us, it’s not enough to open the door halfway. To be truly impactful, we need to provide an engaging, high-quality and immersive entertainment experience for all global audiences to enjoy content the way it was always intended. And that’s something VSI excels at. Always with quality and authenticity in mind. Always providing an inclusive and compelling experience. 

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