Netflix announces many new accessibility features, enhances audio descriptions and subtitles

Netflix will expand its accessibility features and launch a new collection featuring stories about people living with a disability in celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Carrying handicap with Dimension will function like the other special collections of the platform that pull from the streaming giant’s content catalog to enhance their visibility as users browse through the platform. Netflix will also improve its audio descriptions (AD) and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) in more languages, including French, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean.

Netflix’s closed captions, subtitles for SDH, and AD are powerful tools designed to help make television series and movies more accessible to people with a disability. The features have become an integral part of how people from all walks of life consume content and Netflix plans to give subscribers more of what they want.

Heather Dowdy, Netflix’s director of product accessibility, said: “How we access stories has changed a lot. Whether it’s video conferencing, texting, or the flash door, today technology can build bridges to access for many people living with a disability.

“Therefore, today, to celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I am excited to announce that we are expanding our language availability of audio descriptions (AD) and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH). Beginning this month and in 2023, these features will be made available are in more of our catalog and in more languages, including Spanish, Portuguese and French.

Dowdy said providing these features to those in need was at the heart of the work she had done at Netflix. One big reason the platform has plans for this expansion is that more subscribers are viewing content from around the world.

“By increasing our SDH and AD language availability to more than 20 languages, we hope to give all our members the opportunity to see their lives on screen, no matter where you come from, what language you speak, or what language “We also introduce new badges for our shows and movies that have AD and SDH on web and iOS to make it easier to discover stories that are appropriate for your needs,” she said.

Netflix said that 40% of its worldwide user base regularly used subtitles and that people watched thousands of hours of shows, such as Ozark, Luciferen Seinfeld with audio descriptions enabled. Dowdy said Netflix also worked with the disability community to develop robust AD guidelines designed to make its accessibility approach more inclusive.

“That’s why we launched our first collection, entitled ‘Celebrating Disability with Dimension’, featuring more than 50 shows and films featuring characters or stories about people living with a disability,” Dowdy said.

“With more than 1 billion people living with a disability worldwide, the opportunity to tell and engage more inclusive stories within our storytelling communities is enormous. We will also host accessibility screenings in selected countries worldwide around our AD and SDH Bringing out-of-the-room features to life and discussing ways to make entertainment more accessible.

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