An open letter to online TV/movie streaming services.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! How audio describe has changed my enjoyment of TV/movies!
Previously I’ve mentioned that I’m blind. Yes? Have been so for almost 20 years now. And for a large majority of that time, I just didn’t enjoy watching/listening to TV/movies anymore. As you can appreciate, not being able to follow a storyline could really suck!
However in the last couple of years, since Netflix and Disney have been enabling ‘Audio describe’ on all of its new releases and in some cases retrospectively recording Audio description on old titles- it has really changed how I enjoy a common past-time of vegeing on the couch watching a good (or sometimes average) show.
For those who have never required Audio described content before, it is a feature which can be switched on via your Netflix or Disney Plus app. Once turned on, all subsequent content which has an Audio described recording will now automatically play hence forth (until you unselect it at your next session). You’ll know immediately if there is an Audio description recording, as a disembodied voice will describe and read out the opening credits (music to blind ears!). And as time goes by, I’ve found that more and more content have an Audio describe recording- which is fantastic!
An Audio describe narrator basically describes all the on-screen visuals, from describing a scenes background, informing you which characters are on screen, describe physical interaction between characters, describe action sequences, to describing gestures and facial expressions on people’s faces. The narration usually occurs during a break in dialogue between on screen characters, and when describing action scenes or montages it would dim the original audio volume so you can better hear the narrator’s descriptions. The end outcome is that a non-sighted viewer can independently enjoy a show on their own, and completely follow the entire storyline from start to finish. Which is great! As these days I no longer fall asleep during movies with my wife, because I’m bord and unable to follow the film. And/or now I can watch content on my own, stuff which my wife has no interest in. Hence, I can keep pumping out these blogs, as I rip through Netflix and Disney’s libraries.
Sure, not all Audio descriptions are made equally. Some narrators are better than others. Some recordings have very bad audio balance, so that the original dialogue and audio is very soft. While some others describe action sequences before they occur, so it ruins any suspense for your sighted viewing companions. But on the whole, 95% of Audio descriptions are fantastic! Where the narration scripts have been well thought out and conveys the point in as few words as possible, and I love it when the narrator gets right into the action sequences- you can tell that they’re also on the edge of their seats trying to keep up with the action! Haaha.
In short, I’m enjoying visual content 10 times more than I was 2-3 years ago. And I just want to say thank you. Thanks Netflix and Disney Plus (and Apple TV) for investing in our community’s needs, it is very much appreciated.
To turn on Audio description, select ‘Language and audio’ from your player and select ‘Audio description’. And with Netflix, you can filter content based on the availability of Audio description- next time when scrolling through the app, just select ‘Category’ from your home page and filter by ‘Audio description’. Enjoy!