Netflix has been improving their service to benefit the visually impaired. Since April, the streaming video service has added audio description tracks to dozens of movies, TV shows, and Netflix Original series. To help find videos that have audio descriptions, Netflix recently added link to the bottom of their home page to a listing of all movies and TV shows that offer this feature. This listing can be found at www.netflix.com/browse/audio-description.
Audio description, also referred to as a video or visual description, helps provide equal access to those who are blind or have poor vision. In videos, including movies and TV shows, a narrator describes what is happening on the screen during pauses in the dialogue. Audio description is an accessibility option that, like closed-captioning for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, can be turned on for those who need it or left off if not needed.
Over 90 titles on Netflix are currently listed as having audio descriptions, including the Emmy award-winning shows Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, and several other Netflix original series like Orange is the New Black. Audio descriptions are also available for other popular TV series like Glee, Family Guy, American Dad, Law & Order SVU, Malcolm in the Middle, and The Office. Film titles include Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Fried Green Tomatoes, Star Trek: Into Darkness, National Treasure, Walt Disney's 101 Dalmations, World War Z, and The Wolf of Wall Street. And, of course, the first film to receive an audio description on Netflix, Going Blind.
According to the Netflix Blog, Bloodline will receive audio descriptions later this month, and the Netflix original Narcos will be Netflix's first title with audio description in Spanish. Netflix promises to continue working with the studios to make more audio description available. (Note: Audio description may not be available for all seasons and episodes of TV series listed as being enabled for this service.)
Audio description is available to Netflix subscribers on Roku 3 and on the following additional devices:
- Android phones and tablets
- iOS 8.0 or later iPhones and iPads running Netflix App version 7.1.4 or later
- Apple TVs running system software 7.2 or later
- Browsers on PCs or Macs
- PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4
- Xbox 360 and Xbox One
- Many newer Smart TVs, Blu-ray players, and set-top boxes
To turn on audio description on Roku, start playing the audio-description-enabled video in Netflix, press the down arrow on your Roku remote twice to highlight the Audio & Subtitles selection, and press OK on your remote. Select the option for Audio Description and press OK again. The video will pause to reload but will resume playing, with the audio description track turned on, where you were at. (There is also an option to turn on the audio description on the splash screen before the video starts playing, but I was unable to get the audio description track to play when accessing it through that option.)
Keep in mind that you can't search for videos with audio description from within the Netflix app. You will have visit www.netflix.com/browse/audio-description for the list of titles. However, you can check whether a title has an audio description track by selecting the video and then opening the Audio & Subtitles options. Audio Description will be listed only if it's available for that video.
More information about audio descriptions for Netflix movies and shows is available here. For more information about the audio description program in general, visit the Audio Description Coalition and The Audio Description Project.