Subtitles for the hearing impaired are commonplace in streaming media, including Netflix. But descriptive narration for the visually impaired is not nearly as ubiquitous.
Netflix is taking the first steps to remedy this, announcing a new audio description feature that will debut on its original series Daredevil – a series about a blind superhero. This is more than a coincidence, of course.
Netflix's new narration feature will provide the visually impaired with descriptions of what's going on on-screen – including things like physical actions, facial expressions, costumes, settings, and scene changes.
To access the feature, users can simply switch in on the same way they choose a soundtrack in a different language.
"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," says the company.
"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."
Netflix plans to expand the new feature to its original series like House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.
Just a few days ago, with the launch of the new Daredevil series, a petition arose demanding that Netflix "make its new show about a blind superhero accessible to blind viewers"
"Netflix’s new show Daredevil is about a blind lawyer turned superhero -- and it seems unfair that if he were a Netflix subscriber, he wouldn't even be able to enjoy his own show! That’s because important accessibility features for the blind and visually impaired are missing from Netflix productions. They rely on a 'visual description' option that tells them what is happening on the screen, and Netflix doesn’t offer this feature for their original content," said the petition.
Hopefully Netflix will work quickly to add this accessibility to other content, not just its original shows and movies .
Image via Daredevil, Twitter