Marvel‘s Daredevil received widespread acclaim when it aired on Netflix last week, but this success was belied by an embarrassing omission: The show wasn’t accessible to people with visual impairments.
Matt Murdock is unique as a blind superhero and pop-culture icon, so many of his fans were understandably angry that Daredevil did not include an option for audio description. This service is essential for people with visual impairments who want to experience movies and TV, and consists of a voiceover describing what’s happening onscreen.
While American TV networks are required to provide a minimal amount of audio-described programming, no such rule exists for online streaming services—yet. Luckily, the Daredevil outcry has led to a quick change in Netflix’s audio description policy. In a statement on Tuesday, Netflix announced that it had added an audio narration track to Daredevil and would be providing a similar service for other titles including House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
The statement adds: “Netflix is actively committed to increasing the number of audio-visual translations for movies and shows in our English-language catalogues. We are also exploring adding audio description into other languages in the future.”
It’s good to see such a fast turnaround on this, with Netflix publicly recognizing the importance of making its service more accessible. The Federal Communications Commission requirement for major network affiliates is 50 hours of audio-described programming per calendar quarter, meaning Netflix may soon outstrip some networks’ quantity of accessible programming. House of Cards alone is 39 hours long, and Netflix has already pledged to make sure its future original series are audio described as well.
Photo via Marvel