New Netflix features will make binge streaming accessible to more people

Netflix is ​​set to expand its set of accessibility features in a new update aimed at supporting deaf, hard of hearing, and visually impaired people around the world.

Starting this month and continuing through early 2023, the company will add additional audio descriptions, subtitles, and foreign language dub tracks to its entire catalog of Netflix Originals content.

10 languages, including French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Italian, will be fully supported, with eventual plans to expand to Asia-Pacific languages ​​and unique regional European languages.

“For decades, the entertainment you had access to was determined by where you lived and what language you spoke, meaning people who needed AD or SDH couldn’t enjoy stories made outside of their home country,” Netflix Accessibility Director Heather Dowdy said in an announcement message accompanying the news.

“Our ambition is to entertain the world, and by expanding the availability of our SDH and AD languages ​​to now cover over 40 languages, we hope to give all of our members the opportunity to see their lives reflected on screen.”

Netflix and growth

That’s good news for Netflix, which is currently in the midst of one of its most trying times since leading the charge in entertainment streaming.

This year, the streamer has been dogged by subscriber losses, increased competition from Disney Plus and HBO Max, and had to cut many of its original productions — even those with significant fan followings.

While the industry itself was seen as moving too slowly in its efforts to extend accessibility features to its wider audience, however, Netflix has been relatively consistent in forwarding the cause. It already features 11,000 hours of audio-described content and will ensure that new additions are more clearly flagged on the web and in iOS apps.

By supporting more subsections of its potential worldwide audience with greater accessibility features, perhaps Netflix can begin to fill the subscriber gap it has recently experienced.

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