Audio description in Poland

Although first official stage show had been audiodescribed in 1981 in Washington Arena Stage Theatre, audiodescription appeared in Poland two decades later. Just in late 90’s we’ve started making tyflofilms. A few years later audiodescription in movies has been introduced gradually and slowly.

The birthplace of polish audiodescription is Białystok. That’s where first Audiodescription Foundation came into existence. “Fundacja Audiodeskrypcja” is a charity, that initiated works for new broadcast legislation as well as for accessibility of visual culture for blind and visually impaired people. ‘Fundacja Audiodescrypcja’ was established by blind married couple -Tomasz Strzymiński and Barbara Szymańska. An official audiodescription premiere prepared by them, was screening of ‘Statyści’ by Michał Kwieciński in 2006, showed in ‘Pokój’cinema in Białystok. After the event, audiodescription was promoted in national and nationwide polish media and became a recognizable intiative.

The beginning of polish audiodescription

  • In 2007 it was applied for the first time during the football match, as well as the lectors’ audio track was brought into stage performance,which has taken place in National Theatre in Warsaw
  • In 2008 the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia provided audiodescribtion for festival movies.
  • Half year later, also in 2008, audiodescription was introduced in museums and art galleries, photographic exhibition, e.g. National Museum in Wrocław and Poznań, Panorama of Racławice in Wrocław, Silesian Museum in Katowice,Museum in Stalowa Wola,Museum of Warsaws Rebellion,Royal Castle in Warsaw
  • 2009 resulted in releasing first DVD with audiodescription and subtitles for deaf edition – it was ‘Katyń’by Andrzej Wajda. This release was a stepping stone for accessibility in polish home entertainment market. Next movies were provided with audiodescription and subtitles by charities for blind people and movie distributors i.e. PZN, Kino Świat Sp.z.o.o, National Polish Television or Gutek Film. Given titles a few popular audiodescribed movies like ‘Ludzie Boga’ by Xavier Beauvois, ’Czarny czwartek’ by Antoni Krauze,’Miasto nieujarzmione’ by Jerzy Zarzycki.

In terms of public television in Poland, audiovisual suppliers got obligated to provide facilities, which will enable a telecast reception for people with vision impairment (100% area for every telecast, not included adverisements and telemarkets).Obligation will be bringing in gradually. Since 1st July 2011 at least 5% of telecast have that kind facilities,but 10% threshold should be achieved in 2012.

This law conformed to National Polish Television at first. Having experience in distribution audiodescribed movies on web platform, in June 2011 National TV has broadcasted first part of ‘Tajemnica twierdzy szyfrów’ tv series . In July TVP has broadcasted next audiodescribed tv series ‘Londyńczycy’. Before these tv series were available for the blind and visually impaired people on iTVP. TVP Historia channel provided additional audiodescription soundtrack. Since September 2011 the biggest polish commercial televison TVN has introduced audiodescription in their telecast. It provides audiodescription for talk show ‘Rozmowy w toku’. Audiodescription also appears in TVN thematical channels, in programmes like ‘W roli głównej’,’Druga strona medalu’(TVN Style),’Męski typ’(TVN Turbo) –they have supplementary soundtrack. Polsat TV until now -in spite of announcing it – hasn’t audiodescribed programmes yet.

Our Foundation ,which is called ‘Katarynka’ is promoting an audiodescription not only for cultural, but also for social and everyday accessability i.e. in supermarkets, banking, city offices. ’Katarynka’ was established at the beginning of 2010.This initiative was given by radio journalists from Wrocław. Justyna Mańkowska- initiator of foundation, a radio journalist and news editor, Mariusz Trzeciakiewicz-worker of many years in Radio Group Agora, – has become a president of foundation. On the Executive Board included-Adam Burak-a television journalist from Polsat News,for many years connected as well with radio and. The council of foundation have created:Ewa Kurdas,Marta Mazgaj,Angela Halewicz nad Beata Makuszyńska. We continue in this team until now.