Addressing The Few Blind Negatives Of Disney+

A lot has changed since we shared our thoughts in November, but how Can Disney+ Improve ItS Service For The Blind?


Full disclosure: Despite this entry’s title, Disney+ has undergone several tweaks to help disabled users. Going above and beyond , the developers built-accessibility features into their apps from day one and still refine the experience.


Before tackling How Disney+ can Improve ItS Service For The Blind, let’s cover some issues they’ve addressed since our previous discussion:


– Eliminating “picker” navigation to select content. This method, where users flicked up and down in a box, was unreliable and often led to the wrong result being selected. It’s now done by flicking left or right in a section and double tapping to select the title. (Trust me, it’s a lot easier.)


– Section navigation was a pain in the butt. Unlike Netflix and even our website, the app didn’t implement headings. This meant users with Apple’s narration software (VoiceOver) couldn’t skip sections by flicking up and down. Luckily, Disney+ changed this in a later release and now it’s smooth sailing.


While both things may seem minor, they made a HUGE difference in the user experience. It eliminated lots of wasted time and frustration for disabled users. Beyond that, it also showed Disney’s willingness to adapt and listen.


With that in mind, here’s How Disney+ can Improve ItS Service For The Blind.


Where’s The Audio Description?


Okay, so that heading is a bit misleading. As explained in an early episode of our podcast though, audio descriptions allow the blind to “see” a movie in their own way. Essentially, they’re provided an extra audio track that plays over the movie. It uses pauses in dialogue to provide descriptions of what’s happening during the film.


In reality, Disney was an early adopter of the technology. They were one of the first studios to provide it on home/digital media and other apps. Out of all the streamers, Disney+ was also the first (that I know of) to have the option available at launch. That’s a pretty big deal.


While it’s great, knowing which titles have them has been difficult. In Sight: Full Life has put together this awesome list, but it’s not official. Using info from first-hand testing and contributors, it’s only for titles in the United States.


I’m not trying to poo poo on the work at all, that’s just to say it isn’t a definitive list, but rather a start. If these people weren’t willing to share the information, there wouldn’t be a list. That’s where the problem lies.


Where The Descriptions Have No Name


Although Netflix has an official list of titles with audio descriptions, not having one isn’t a big deal. iTunes lets users search for audio descriptions by entering “AD audio descriptions” in the search field. Even though that method is flawed, titles with audio descriptions have an icon (which can be read by VoiceOver) too. Amazon Prime Video also lists whether or not a title has audio description in its details section.


Unfortunately, Disney+ doesn’t have any of this. That means a user can only find out by going to “audio and subtitles” after content starts playing.


Looking To The Franchise Player


Finding out what doesn’t have audio description is annoying in other ways too. Here’s an example: Despite every Star Wars film being described on iTunes, only Star Wars (Episode I): The Phantom Menace, Star Wars (Episode VII): The Force Awakens, Star Wars (Episode VIII): The Last Jedi and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story have them on Disney+ — considering the middle trilogy launched the entire series, that’s kind of a big gap!


This isn’t exclusive to that franchise however. Want to check out Honey I Blew Up The Kid? You’re in luck! How about the original (and more popular) film that started it all

 though? Nope, Honey I Shrunk The Kids doesn’t have audio description.


Many of these omissions don’t add up. This includes the Marvel films from FOX, which had audio descriptions on digital copies from iTunes and Netflix previously.


Lend Me Your Mouse Ears


The good thing is that it can seemingly be fixed. Disney+ listened to feedback in the past and hasn’t had an issue refining the service. If nothing else, they’re definitely open to change if it makes the user experience better for everyone.


Adding a search option for “audio description” in that section would work in the short term. For me, I’d love it if they did that and included the info in a title’s details section (along with director, cast, dolby 5.1 surround sound, etc.).


As far as adding audio descriptions to more content, that seems easy enough too. Disney has access to these tracks so it’s just a matter of updating things. They’ve described movies that didn’t have them originally so it’s not impossible. I just wish they would prioritize by franchise a bit more: Why would a blind person watch a movie from a series if they already know they won’t be able to complete it on their own? That part doesn’t make sense to me.


Maybe there’s a legit reason but if that’s the case, they should communicate it to people. I think consumers might be more forgiving if they understood these seemingly random choices.


All in all, Disney+ has done a great job so far. It’s probably why I hold them to such high standards even. Knowing they’re so close to a perfect experience for the blind and visually-impaired community, I just hope they keep listening to us.


If so, Disney should be able to put the cherry on top of their delectable streaming sundae.


Squeak Up!


how do you think Disney+ Can Improve ItS Service For The Blind? Even if you are fully or differently abled, I’d love to get other perspectives on the user experience from every corner. Let your thoughts be known by leaving a comment below or e-mailing us through our contact form. Thanks in advance!

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