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Netflix adds audio descriptions for visually impaired to ‘Daredevil’ and other shows

“Daredevil,” Netflix’s newest original series that features blind lawyer Matt Murdock take to the streets as the eponymous protagonist, ironically didn’t come prepared to aid blind fans in watching the blind hero.

However, like the agile Daredevil, Netflix made a quick move to rectify the problem — only four days after the series’ April 10 release.

Starting today, Netflix added an audio description track to “Daredevil,” allowing blind and visually impaired fans an alternate way to enjoy the series without needing to see the visuals. The new feature, Netflix explained, “is a narration track that describes what is happening on-screen, including physical actions, facial expressions, costumes, settings and scene changes,” adding that viewers could access the narration “just like choosing the soundtrack in a different language.”

“At Netflix, we work hard to continually improve the experience for our members when viewing movies and shows on our service, including providing accessibility across devices,” Tracy Wright, director of content operations at Netflix, wrote in a blog post for the company. “Now we’re expanding our accessibility options by adding audio description on select titles, beginning today with our new critically acclaimed series, Marvel’s Daredevil.”

Entertainment Weekly described how the audio description track worked in a post today, even revealing that the narration includes a description even for the Netflix logo:

Netflix has introduced audio descriptions to all episodes of Daredevil, an English audio option that will overlay each episode with a voice describing the action in between dialogue. The voice picks up right from the start, even explaining how the Netflix logo appears — “Letters pop out from a white background, then turn red. Netflix,” a voice says. The voice then narrates characters, locations, actions, and more from each episode so that those physically unable to see the screen still have a sense of what is happening beyond the dialogue.

The move comes after some negative reaction over the revelation that “Daredevil” would be released without an audio description track. CNBC quoted comic book creator Rich Bernatovech, who posted to Facebook after getting no response from Netflix about his concerns.

“Am I the only person who finds it bad that there is a show about a blind superhero coming on TV and people, more importantly children, who are visually impaired will not be able to enjoy this show unless they find their own way to get audio description?” he wrote.

Wright wrote that Netflix was “actively committed to increasing the number of audio-visual translations for movies and shows in our English-language catalogues,” adding that the company would explore “adding audio description into other languages in the future.” Though Daredevil is currently the only Netflix original series to carry audio descriptions, Netflix says they’ll be adding the feature to their other original series, including “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Marco Polo,” in the coming weeks. Netflix also expect to add audio description to be available for other content in the future.

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