Late last year, it was announced that I would be co-hosting a new culinary show in Canada with the winner of “Top Chef” Canada season 2, Carl Heinrich. Now, the show, called “Four Senses,” is about to make its debut on the small screen one week from tomorrow!


“Four Senses” is a cooking show geared towards the visually impaired—it’s airing on AMI (Accessible Media, Inc.) TV, a Canadian cable network designed to make television accessible to everyone, including the vision and hearing impaired. This means our show, while it’s visual because it’s on TV, contains a ton of audio description—we’re constantly narrating what’s going on in the kitchen, what we’re doing, how things feel or smell or sound. I have to say, I am very thankful something like this exists, because as you can imagine, it’s difficult for someone with very little vision like me to watch TV. As much as I like to read and listen to music, TV is such a cornerstone of pop culture and modern society that it’s difficult for me to ignore it or remove myself from that favorite spot on the couch in front of the small screen. I like to be able to participate in conversations my friends have about the latest episode of SNL with JT. I like to spend down time with the hubster watching “Parks and Rec” reruns. But oftentimes, I am asking my TV-watching companions, “What just happened? What’s she doing? What does he look like?” And that’s where AMI comes in: to fill in those gaps of the television world for the viewer with special needs.

Oh, how I love those socially progressive Canadians!

But where does that leave us Americans?

In 2010, the FCC enacted the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which mandated provisions that will make modern communications technologies accessible to people with disabilities. This was the biggest accessibility legislature since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990.

In October 2013, in the same month I was off in Toronto filming “Four Senses,” the FCC was busy adopting new video accessibility rules, which is a major step towards fulfilling the CVAA. Yay for civil rights for the disabled!

Speaking of the U.S., I’ve had countless questions from my fellow Americans asking, “How can we watch ‘Four Senses’ in the U.S.?” Good question. We are still trying to figure that out ourselves, whether it means syndicating the show on an American network or streaming it online. Please be patient, as we are working on that. And remember, the more demand that’s created for it, the more likely it will be made available. (Hint, hint.)

In the meantime, I’ve heard you can listen to “Four Senses” on the AMI podcast (which, for you vision impaired folks, would be just the same).

So if you’re in Canada, don’t forget to tune in to “Four Senses” on AMI next Friday the 24th at 7 PM, and let me know what you think. And if you’re elsewhere, stay tuned for availability updates. Thanks for coming along on this ride with me.

What are your thoughts on the CVAA? Do you have any more information for me and the readers about any advancements made in this regard? Let me know in the comments section.

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20 Discussion to this post

  1. Paul says:

    Good post! My wife recently had a contract job creating descriptive audio scripts for television shows, mostly Law & Order and its various spin-offs. This work existed because of the CVAA. Her scripts were reviwed by an editor before being recorded in a studio by professional readers. So it's fair to say that the CVAA has created jobs in addition to expanding viewing opportunities for the blind or vision-impaired.

    Watching my wife work made me understand for the first time that many television programs aren't easy to augment with descriptive audio. Modern television story-telling techniques, like quick cuts or voiceovers that carry over several short scenes, can make it very challenging to provide corresponding audio description. Sometimes there just isn't room in the dialog to insert a descriptive phrase.

    So I think that what AMI is doing is fantastic, because if programming is created with the idea of including descriptive audio from the beginning, the difficulties I just described will be eliminated. Consider the Olympic village in London in 2012 – it was built with the Paralympics in mind, so when that event began following the Olympics, there was no need to modify any of the buildings or facilities. The lesson is that it's cheaper to be more inclusive and accommodating from the very beginning, and I think this applies to television programming as well.

  2. Christine, I am so excited for you! I also have NMO (we've exchanged emails via twitter a few times) and I watch AMI fairly often as I am Canadian & several of my friends have done interviews on AMI programs because they are involved in Para sport. Can't wait to see your new program! So proud of you-I knew you were something special when I saw you that first day on Master Chef. Good luck!,

  3. Vivienne says:

    For U.S. viewers, the American Foundation for the Blind has a Described TV listings page on its website: http://www.afb.org/tv.aspx. You just input your zipcode into the search field and out comes your local times and listings.

    • Christine Ha says:

      Thanks for the helpful hint.

      • Patricia says:

        Hi Christine ,
        I'm Patricia. I want to tell you that you are my inspiration and motivation. This Monday October 19 I;m going to speech in my class room in Nassua Community College in Long Island about you, because you are an example that strong, fight, don't give up for all people. I'm blind too and I discovered that you and me have some things in common. I want to realize my dream I would like to be a Chef as well. Christine now you have a new admirer.
        I saw all your videos and also I read a lot about you and each time I love you more and more.

    • It is quite a great help by you dear. I will surely be a subscriber at that channel. thanks

  4. Gillian says:

    I have just bought your cookbook (can't wait for it to arrive!) and am excited about your new show. I won't get to see it until they broadcast it in the US, but I have posted about it to the Canadians in my foodie group and look forward to the reviews. Congratulations Christine!

  5. Tedde Bear says:

    I wonder if FOX or FX would pick it up, Christine, since you did work with their sister network, FOX, for MasterChef?

    As you might say, Christine, the squeaky wheel gets the salmon poke (just had some for breakfast!). Some contact information to help us squeak:

    1 – Contacting the FX cable networks: Email: user@fxnetworks.com

    2 – Contacting the FOX broadcast network – Write FOX at:
    FOX Broadcasting Co.
    P.O. Box 900
    Beverly Hills, CA 90213

    3 – Call or write your local FOX station (too many for me to list them; Google your station for their info).

    Note – if you're in the following local markets, your local FOX station is an O&O (owned and operated by FOX itself) – so they will definitely let the network executives in Los Angeles know of your feedback:
    Atlanta, Georgia WAGA-TV 5
    Austin, Texas KTBC 7
    Charlotte, North Carolina WJZY 46
    Boston, Massachusetts WFXT 25
    Chicago, Illinois WFLD 32
    Dallas-Fort Worth, TexasKDFW-TV 4
    Detroit, Michigan WJBK 2
    Houston, Texas KRIV 26
    Los Angeles, CaliforniaKTTV 11
    Memphis, Tennessee WHBQ-TV 13
    Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota KMSP-TV 9
    New York City, New YorkWNYW 5
    Ocala-Gainesville, Florida WOGX 51
    Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Florida WOFL 35
    Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaWTXF-TV 29
    Phoenix, Arizona KSAZ-TV 10
    Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, FloridaWTVT 13
    Washington, D.C.WTTG 5

    If you're in England or Australia, try contacting Sky (in England) or FOXTel (in Australia) – more squeaky wheels, more poke (…mmmmmmm! poke! {sorry, Homer, better than donuts!})

    • Christine Ha says:

      All thoughtful ideas, but I wish it was as easy. The producer is working on getting the show syndicated, if not producing an American version. Stay tuned.

  6. Bianca says:

    Would be great to see it in England since I live here at the moment. Is your husband going to travel with you? You two are so beautiful together. Congratulations for great achievements!

    • Christine Ha says:

      We are working on getting “Four Senses” broadcasted in as many countries as possible, but unfortunately, it's only airing in Canada at the moment.Thank you for the compliment. 🙂 My husband gets to travel with me only on some of my trips as he still maintains a full-time job at home.

  7. Elda says:

    Hi.
    Not sure where you're at with respect to airing your show in the US; but, I thought I'd mention that I regularly watch Canadian shows on the ION Life channel here in the Boston MA area (i.e. Chef at Home, Chef at Large, Loving Spoonfuls, Fresh with Anna Olson, etc.). Maybe ION Life could pick up your show too.
    Your show would make such a huge positive impact for so many people! 🙂

    • Christine Ha says:

      Thanks for the info. I'll pass it along to our producer to see if she's pursued that route yet. :)Anna has been a guest twice on our show. I adore both her and her her husband, Michael.

  8. Patricia says:

    Hi Christine,
    You are mi inspiration and motivation. Congratulations for your successful and I hope many blesses for you and your family.

  9. I have recently purchased your cookbook (can hardly wait for it to arrive!) and am amped up for your new appear. I won't get the chance to see it until they show it in the US, however I have presented about it on the Canadians in my foodie gathering and anticipate the audits. Congrats Christine!
    for more info about label baju please visit utamalabel.com

  10. n songs says:

    nice video really helps me.

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