Netflix introduces audio description

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Wednesday, 15 April 2015 14:49pm

Daredevil, a TV series about a blind superhero, has become the first program on Netflix to have audio description for people who are blind or vision impaired.

Marvel Daredevil logo

Advocacy groups in the US, including the Accessible Netflix Project, have long called for the popular video-on-demand service to provide audio description. In 2013, following a suit brought against it by the National Association of the Deaf, the service agreed to provide closed captions on 100 per cent of its content by the end of 2014.

In a blog post, Tracy Wright, Netflix’s director of content operations, wrote that “Netflix is actively committed to increasing the number of audio-visual translations for movies and shows in our English-language catalogues. We are also exploring adding audio description into other languages in the future.” Daredevil will soon be followed by other described TV series, including House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

“It was great to see that the described version of Daredevil was made available in Australia at the same time as the US,” said Chris Mikul, Media Access Australia’s project manager for television. “Audio description is still very rare on video-on-demand services, so this is a really important development, and shows that there are no technical barriers to delivering the service online.”

While the addition of audio description to Netflix titles is a very positive move, the Netflix website remains inaccessible for blind and vision impaired consumers who rely on screen readers. Robert Kingett, founder of the Accessible Netflix Project, said that Netflix and other streaming services “should include a core accessibility team to ensure everything is usable on the web and on the app.”

For more information, see the Washington Post’s article on Netflix and audio description.

Media Access Australia will shortly be releasing a major report, Access on Demand, which looks at accessibility levels on video-on-demand services in Australia and other countries.

You may also like:

  • More on TV & Video accessibility, including captions and audio description on TV, as well as reviews and how-to guides
  • The ADonTV website, covering the progress of getting audio description on Australian television
  • Everything you need to know about catch-up TV accessibility in Australia and abroad
  • DVD & Blu-ray accessibility, covering captions and audio description, as well as where to find audio described DVDs
  • Our page on video on demand accessibility
  • Information on audio described movie technology, as well as how audio described movies are made

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