Netflix adds Audio Description feature to aid visually impaired

Netflix’s latest hit original show centres around the life of a visually impaired lawyer Matt Murdock, who leads a double life as the crime-fighting superhero Daredevil.

Now, in the spirit of the critically-acclaimed series, the video streaming giant is launching a new Audio Description mode, aimed at helping those with vision problems enjoy the service just as much as fully-sighted users.

Starting today with Marvel’s Daredevil, the narration mode will describe the on-screen action with an additional audio track between dialogue. It will describe character actions, emotions, changes in scenes and settings and much more.

For example, the opening scene of Daredevil begins with: “A man walks cautiously between cars towards an accident, his face searching, traffic is stopped. Dozens of pedestrians rush to the scene. His eyes grow alarmed as he shoves his way through the crowd…

While it is only available to Daredevil viewers right now, Netflix is planning to bring narration to other original shows like Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, House of Cards and Marco Polo. It’ll also hit select movies according to Netflix’ director of content operations, Tracy Wright.

The initiative is the result of campaigning from members of from The Accessible Netflix Project, which is led by a blind comic book fan.

You can turn on the narration within the Netflix player by choosing the audio settings and selecting English – Audio Description.

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The company already offers subtitles and closed captioning for hearing impaired users, so adding Audio Descriptions is a nice touch from Netflix. Let’s hope it spreads rapidly across the library of shows.

Netflix is actively committed to increasing the number of audio-visual translations for movies and shows in our English-language catalogues,” Wright wrote on the Netflix blog. “We are also exploring adding audio description into other languages in the future.”

“Over time, we expect audio description to be available for major Netflix original series, as well as select other shows and movies. We are working with studios and other content owners to increase the amount of audio description across a range of devices including smart TVs, tablets and smartphones.”

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