Global Accessibility Awareness Day: Netflix shares the work behind making audio descriptions

Netflix currently offers over 10,000 hours of audio description which includes all its original titles.

Some of the most watched titles with audio descriptions in India include both seasons of Sacred Games, Lust Stories, Guilty and Delhi Crime.
Some of the most watched titles with audio descriptions in India include both seasons of Sacred Games, Lust Stories, Guilty and Delhi Crime. (Pexels)

Netflix is possibly the most popular streaming service globally for TV shows, movies and more. It’s even more popular now as people turn to such platforms amid the lockdown. On Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Netflix shares the work behind making its content accessible to all users.

Netflix offers dubbing and subtitles in different languages other than the original language to cater to different audiences. On top of this, Netflix shows and movies come with closed captions (CC) which describe details of additional sound like noises, ringing of phones and glass shattering. Closed captions cater to users who are hearing-impaired.

The streaming service also has audio description (AD) which is for the visually impaired. This builds on closed captions but adds more description for the characters on screen, time, setting and action. Netflix currently supports over 10,000 hours of audio description with all its original movies and shows offering it. Audio description on Netflix can be turned on from the “Audio and subtitles” section. 

“We started audio description with Marvel’s Daredevil in 2015. Netflix also creates closed captions for all Originals. Today, Netflix offers audio description and closed captions in over 30 languages. We continue to strive for the highest quality in this space,” Debra Chinn, Director of Netflix’s International Dubbing said.

Other than the technicalities that go behind making audio description, getting the right AD director for particular shows and movies is crucial, according to Netflix. For shows like Never Have I Ever, a young adult or teenage voice would be more suitable. But at the same time a nurturing voice of an older person can be an exception too for children’s titles.

Interestingly, for male dominated shows like Sacred Games or Narcos, a female voice would be used to sound distinct and easy to follow. Netflix also chooses voices that complement the subject matter so a female narrator would be more suitable for titles with strong female leads.

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The voice texture is also important like choosing a mellifluous voice for romantic movies. The predominant accent of the title is taken into account as well.

In India, Netflix offers audio description for shows and movies like Sacred Games, Guilty, Mighty Little Bheem, She, Maska, Bard of Blood, and Yeh Ballet. And some of the most watched titles with ADs include both seasons of Sacred Games, Lust Stories, Guilty and Delhi Crime.