Enjoying Audio Description Everywhere

Over the last several years, the AFB, ACB, and NFB tirelessly advocated for audio description in movie theaters, network TV shows, and streaming services. The ACB’ Audio Description Project’s website is the foremost authority on the current state of descriptive content, reviewing and summarizing our options for audio description in movies and TV shows. Thanks to these efforts, immersion into movies only requires knowing where and how to access this secondary audio programming (SAP) for the narrative track.

Audio Description in Movies

The larger chain cinemas around the country offers headsets for patrons with visual or hearing impairments. You may obtain a set by asking the staff at the ticket counter for a pair, but you must specify which one. For the blind, you will receive a device that plays a narrative track synced to the movie. For hearing impairments, the device amplifies various parts of the movie, and may offer a neck loop to directly insert into your hearing aid’s box. Its possible to use both devices together.

Audio Description on Network and Cable TV

Accessing SAP with the audio description feature on network TV often requires sighted assistance. This stems from the various methods from over the air to cable/satellite providers we might use. The simplest solution I can offer is to ask for sighted assistance to locate and enable the SAP, Descriptive Audio, or Audio Description setting within your TV, cable/satellite box, and TIVO. Some controllers come with this button, easing this process. For a listing of what shows possess our audio description tracks, visit  ACB’s Audio Description Project’s page.

Streaming Audio Described Content

My favorite method to enjoy audio description involves streaming services. In particular, Serotek’s SAMNet Veterans program, Netflix Audio description, and iTunes Movies each provides a cross platform method to experience audio description. Serotek’s SAMNet Veterans program contains thousands of TV shows and Movies as part of the System Access Mobile Network and iBlink Radio services and apps, accessible through Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and AppleTV 4th generation devices. Have your VIST or CATS instructor visit this page to sign you up. The most popular streaming media provider, Netflix, embraced the ACB’s Audio Description project and now offers content with audio description from existing TV shows and movies to their own in-house productions. The number of choices offered changes each month, so visit the ACB Audio Description Project’s Netflix page for more information or locate Audio Description at the bottom of the page on Netflix after you log on. Additionally, check out my guide on enabling Audio Description for Netflix on iOS here. Finally, iTunes only recently started to add Audio Description to their movies and TV Shows. As of this post, there is no centralized list, and you have to read through the show’s description and listen for AD or Audio Description after the CC or Closed Captioning labels. I have primarily found this on newer releases, generally from Disney. As a runner up, Blindy.TV is an internet streaming radio playing several channels of audio described channels for free and even available on your Victor Reader Stream and HIMS Blaze.

Audio Description on DVD’s

Why venture out of your house or worry about scripting fees for Netflix when many of the DVD’s and Blue Ray in your private collections or public libraries possess these features. On the backside of these media, you may find SAP, DVC, DVS, or AD to indicate the existence of the narrative track. All you then need to do is enable SAP or describe video in the menu settings of your DVD or Blue Ray player and enjoy.

Final Thoughts

Audio Description removes the barrier experienced by the visually impaired to enjoy movies and TV shows by inserting a narrative track as a Secondary Audio Programming to shows. The ACB’s Audio Description Project started advocacy efforts targeting movie theaters, TV Networks, and streaming media services. Steadily the list of described content grows, forcing us to decide if we wish to watch a Netflix movie, new blockbuster, or a network TV show.