In the beginning... or: The world’s most powerful graphics chip

Close your eyes and watch – A blind man entering TV

I have been blind for a few years now. And while my sight was not exactly perfect before either, I have still always been a true “child of TV“ – kind of as if my parents had told themselves: “OK, he is already visually impaired, so he might as well watch now. Not too much left to be destroyed, right?“ Especially ProSieben and SAT.1 have left their marks on me: “ran“ German soccer league, “Family Matters“, “The Simpsons“, “TV Total“, “Die Harald-Schmidt-Show“, “Switch Reloaded“, “Schlag den Raab“, “How I Met Your Mother“ – from child to adult. Of course turning blind did not mean that I turned the TV off at once. I keep watching. Even with the picture gone many shows manage to remain nearly as attractive as before. Sounds strange? But it’s true. The way I feel it, anyway.

I keep watching. Even with the picture gone many shows manage to remain nearly as attractive as before.

Sure, the times when I went to the movies to enjoy an action flick with spectacular 3D effects but hardly any proper storyline are over now. But many series, above all, are mostly driven by dialogue, sitcoms and comedy shows such as “The Big Bang Theory“ or “jerks.“ being good examples here. Just try to imagine those series with no sound or subtitles – it’s impossible. But dialogues help me put together most of the action quite well, and in some shows, like “The Big Bang Theory“, I can still remember people and places from before I went blind. And hey, even if the pictures in my head may occasionally be wrong now, so what? My television, after all, is now run by, to quote Dr. Sheldon Cooper, “the world’s most powerful graphics chip: imagination“. This power often gets you very far if you listen carefully as well. Even in big (live) shows such as “Schlag den Star“, I can mostly follow the events well, thanks in part to the enthusiastic commentator during the action games. Yes, there is the occasional moment when I don’t know exactly what is happening, but I can live with that.

Blind and TV go together quite well, whether in front of the screen or behind the scenes.

Without support, our colorful prime time show “The Masked Singer“ would certainly leave me missing a little more. However after last year’s finale of “Germany’s Next Topmodel“ the show was the first program whose complete season was broadcast with an audio description service, providing additional descriptions for blind and heavily visually impaired people. This works magnificently – in season two as well – giving me a very close-up impression of the elaborate costumes, the performances and the show as a whole. On the other hand, there are some other programs on TV that don’t exactly make me miss being able to see. For example, when people (say politicians) argue in talk shows, the acoustic part is mostly more than enough.

The fact that ProSieben started using audio description exactly when I started working here is one of many situations over the past few years when things just worked out nicely. Apparently I had to turn blind first before I could find my way into media. If my sight was still as “good“ today as it was in 2013, I would not be doing what I love here at P7S1 now but I would probably be issuing decisions working in some little office for the state.

In 2011 I began studying to become a civil servant in the administration area – for reasons that had little to do with interests and much with rational thinking (keywords: heavily disabled, civil service, financially safe). But right in the middle of this, my left eye – at that point my only eye working halfway properly – suddenly went blind. I had to abort my studies, although I did not feel too sad about that. Later while on a rehab I heard about Munich journalism academy “Journalistenakademie Dr. Hooffacker“, where they also offer their degree as an online editor crossmedia to blind students. I decided to give it a try – one of the best decisions of my life. A great course was followed by two fantastic internships in the world of media. Today I am a trainee (“Volontär“) in ProSiebenSat.1’s Corporate Communications and in our brand new Sustainability team. While even in the year 2020 I still encounter a few barriers, for example when trying to use certain computer programs or, quite simply, grabbing some lunch while the canteen is full of people. But thanks to help programs for PC’s and smartphones, a great amount of things that could not be imagined 20 years ago are possible now. And for the rest, I am glad to have my colleagues in my great teams.

So what have we learned today? Blind and TV go together quite well, whether in front of the screen or behind the scenes – well, I suppose it should not be a job as a photo editor, alright. From now on, I will regularly give you my unique view (no pun intended) on the latest developments concerning our company, the TV programme or my work here. I’m looking forward to it. Next time I’m going to tell you something about how blind people experience sports on TV.

So have fun, and make use of your ears... They are much more helpful to you than you think!

Yours, 

Alex