Star Trek extends its all-inclusiveness towards the blind

Ethan Peck as Spock of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS. Photo Cr: Marni Grossman/Paramount+
Ethan Peck as Spock of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS. Photo Cr: Marni Grossman/Paramount+ /

 From its conception, one of Gene Roddenberry’s motivations behind Star Trek was to depict an all-inclusive future.

Gene Roddenberry wanted to create a world where all manner of individuals had the opertunity to succeed, move up the rankings, and explore the galaxy, regardless of race, gender or even species. This plan worked better then he could have ever imagined, for a vast number of people of different races and genders have found their place in their careers of choice and even in society, and some of them have even proclaimed that they have Star Trek to thank directly for that.

Now, I imagine the Great Bird of the galaxy is smiling down on just one more group of individuals that have been utterly captivated by his creation, and what Trek has done to accommodate their needs.

Like many others of my generation, I first discovered Star Trek thanks to Netflix, and due to my nature of watching everything in order, I started with TOS and made my way from there.

As a completely blind fan, I greatly enjoyed how the series relied very heavily on dialogue, characterization, and plot to move the show along. There was very little that I needed to “see” to have a full understanding of what was taking place aboard the Enterprise or the new planet of any given episode.

As Trek progressed however, and more and more series were borne, it did what all successful TV series must do. It evolved and became more action oriented. Don’t get me wrong. The compelling characters and fascinating plot lines were still very much present, but starting with TNG, all the series contained a much stronger element of action than had been present in TOS, and I found myself falling behind during these scenes.

I have nothing but the deepest affection for the five original Trek series, but the “next generation” of Trek series would bring something totally different with them, that would change how I and other blind Trekkies view the shows and films forever.

Star Trek begain utilizing audio descripitive services and changed everything for blind Trekkies.

Starting in the year 2013, big name companies like Disney started to include audio descriptive services on their films. This service is specifically geared towards the blind, providing a narrator that is seamlessly woven through the film, never overlapping the dialogue of the characters, that provides a detailed description of all the action that is taking place on the screne and every visual aspect of the film, even down to what characters look like or what they are wearing.

It was not long before more TV series began to adopt this practice as well, and I don’t think anyone will be surprised that one of the first shows to do so was the new Trek series. Thanks to Star Trek and the good folks at Paramount Plus, Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and now Strange New Worlds all have an audio descriptive option. Not only do all the new series have this option, but all three rebooted Trek films and the “Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s cut” contains audio description as well.

For someone like me who has always had to rely on dialogue to move a story along, those who provide this audio descriptive service will never quite understand just what they have done for me and fans just like me or just what this service means to us.

I have several other friends who are also blind, and they now feel that they can fully enjoy Trek, thanks to the audio descriptive service. I have even spoken with other blind people who, having never seen Star Trek, now find that they want to watch it because of the audio description, and thus a whole new group of Star Trek fans are borne.

I think it an absolute certainty that Roddenberry would be incredibly pleased to see how his creation, which has always been about inclusiveness, has been adapted for a group of people who are now able to enjoy Trek just as much as our sighted counterparts.

Me and a couple of my friends have already begun to watch Strange New Worlds, and we have already seen the first two episodes. It may seem like a small thing to a sighted viewer, but I love the description of the “silver haired Captain Pike” or the “purple bearded humanoid” which was the shepherd from episode 2 of Strange New Worlds, and the thrilling description of Spock flying the shuttle through the chunks of ice and debris at the climax of that episode.

No longer do we need to watch our favorite show with sighted people who can explain to us what is going on, and no longer must we muddy through action scenes totally in the dark of what is happening (pun intented). Now, I and my blind friends and all other blind Trekkies get to look forward to the next episode of Strange New Worlds, or any other series or film, with the same eagerness as a sighted Trekkie, with the knowledge that we won’t miss a thing.

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