Group Tailors Holiday Entertainment to The Visually Impaired

Blind and visually impaired people across the nation are getting the gift of entertainment this holiday season, thanks to the "Eyes of Christmas."

Reaching more than 80 million homes on a variety of cable networks and independent television stations, the event features dozens of celebrities presenting holiday music, memories and films over the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

A technology called TheatreVision provides a soundtrack for feature films that runs concurrently with the dialogue of the movie. By selecting it via the television remote control, the track provides a "descriptive narration" of what is being shown onscreen.

Besides entertaining, the "Eyes of Christmas" raises awareness and funds for RP International, a nonprofit organization that battles retinitis pigmentosa and other degenerative eye diseases.

It's all the brainchild of Helen Harris, a 70-year-old artist living in the San Fernando Valley who is blind because of RP. She founded RP International in 1972 when she discovered two of her sons also had the disease.

Along the way, Harris has enlisted the support of an "A list" of celebrities from entertainment, sports and politics. Among those participating this year are Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Drew Barrymore, Garth Brooks and former President George H.W. Bush.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-12-22-07 1552EST

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