Superhero fans come in all shapes and sizes and stations of life, and it should come as a surprise to no one that the blinded-as-a-boy Marvel hero Daredevil has amassed a sizable group of blind fans over the years. And so, when Netflix first announced that it was bringing a Daredevil series to subscribers, conversations turned to whether or not the show would be accessible to blind audiences. And while that wasn’t the case when the series debuted, Netflix has announced all 13 episodes now have that option.
To access the new addition, which is currently only available for Daredevil, users just have to click on the language options menu and choose “English – Audio Description.” From there, you’ll hear a man describing the actions as they’re happening on screen in between pieces of dialogue. The narrator kind of sounds like someone who would get a lot of superhero voiceover work, so it fits nicely.
I’d admittedly never watched something on this scope with an audio description option, so it was interesting to hear just how many things were being described, from the weather to the set decoration to the actors’ facial expressions. Things do get a little muddled during the show’s stellar fight scenes, as the music and sound effects tend to drown the narration out. But this is still the service’s first attempt at it, and while it could be better, it’s still a great step forward. And it definitely won’t be the last one.
Netflix also plans on adding narration to their other original series, with the service namechecking House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Marco Polo. Those last two are going to be tough, given the plethora of jokes Kimmy has, and the vastness of the locations in Marco Polo. Beyond their own productions, Netflix will also be working with studios to get select movies and TV shows equipped with the descriptions option.
The progress doesn’t end there, either. While all of their immediate plans involve English-language narration, Netflix will also be looking into adding descriptions for foreign languages in the future. And though it’s currently only available on the website itself, we can look forward to having this benefit on many more devices, such as smart TVs and mobile devices. It may take a little time, but Netflix may one day reign supreme as a hub of accessible entertainment for the blind.
So while Netflix’s audio description might not be at the level where they’re pointing out Marvel easter eggs just yet, there’s hope for the future. And if that future includes a Season 2 for Daredevil, we’ll be all the more pleased.