"Emily's Wizard of Oz:" A Blind Child Imagines Oz, As Comcast Debuts Access Features for TV
An imaginative seven year old who is blind stars in a beautiful Xfinity commercial that debuted at the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 22. It served as Comcast's announcement about updated accessibility tools. One increases media access to cable television via a talking TV guide, and the other offers one-touch access to closed captions.
So Fascinating! The commercial also reveals the way a blind child imagines and "changes up" a story. Emily shares vividly how characters look in her mind's eye. Meanwhile, a film crew of professional artists and production experts turns her visions into a stage set.
"I think about the shape. I think about color. I also think about sound. I take it into my brain and I think about... 'What would it look like to me?'" Her Tin Man has a "big toe the size of a house" and has a thin body because he has no heart. Her Cowardly Lion, the size of a toy poodle, is "very scared of everything" and her Scarecrow has long wooden teeth and even longer fingernails. Dorothy, the heroine, well ... "She looks like me," Emily says.
Media Access This pitch, with a voice-over at the end by Academy Award winner Robert Redford, announced the first voice-enabled television interface that reads TV schedules aloud. The company now uses a one-touch access to programs with closed captions. Viewers with disabilities and everyone else can use the tools to view TV programming with greater ease and independence.
There is more on Comcast's accessibility services on EmilysOz.com. See a video of the XFINITY on the X1 Entertainment Operating System.
How A Blind Child Imagines For more background on Emily's story creation, view the following videos:
- The Making of Emily's Oz™ (6 min.), or The Making of Emily’s Oz™ (with video description) (6 min. 39 sec.)
- Emily's Oz: The Wizard of Oz™ According to Emily (2 min. 29 sec.)
AIM-VA Accessibility is key to learning. When students struggle to read print there is a federally funded program that provides "accessible educational materials" (AEM) — that is, alternative formats to print—at no charge. Students are found eligible for the service at their Individualized Education Program (IEP) planning meetings by their education teams. AEM is a nationwide program created to give students with print disabilities access to the same curriculum as their peers are studying. To learn more about free audiobooks with learning supports, braille, PDfs and more, log on to the AIM-VA homepage in Virginia. In other states, ask a special education teacher or school administrator about free learning materials under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and an exception to federal copyright law.
L. Frank Baum This blog posting started with my intention to remember the birthday on May 15 of L. Frank Baum (1856 - 1919), author of the Wizard of Oz. He didn't get a mention, so I remember him here and his writing for children of all ages. There are many digital editions of his most famous book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, that is available on Project Guttenberg, including a free e-book. Bookshare and Learning Ally have multiple editions of the story that are available to members at no charge. Why choose these versions? Books from both companies offer learning supports to help students interact with and derive meaning from the text.