The massive streaming service HBO Max added a key accessibility feature for blind and visually impaired users, helping them to enjoy the same content as everyone else. The service now offers audio descriptions for the content, which describes what is happening on the screen in addition to the dialogue and sound effects. This feature is accompanied by several other changes aimed at improving accessibility.
WarnerMedia agreed to add accessibility for blind and visually impaired users in October. In the first release of features under this plan, the company is adding about 1,500 hours of audio descriptions for selected content, including some third-party content, HBO originals, HBO Max originals and Warner Bros. films, according to American Council of the Blind.
In addition to audio descriptions, HBO Max is also launching an audio description category with “highlight” in the navigation menu so that users can quickly access this media. Mobile applications and the HBO Max website are getting accessibility improvements that allow them to work better with screen reader software.
Likewise, changes coming this week include new HBO Max help articles for customers with disabilities, some designed to help users use accessibility features. Finally, HBO Max is also training its customer service representatives on how to support these customers.
As for audio descriptions, ACB says that WarnerMedia will expand the amount of programming that has this option – to about twice the content of the audio description next March and 6,000 hours or more in March 2023. Current programs that include this accessibility feature include Sesame Street, Dunkirk, Your Dark Materials, Euphoria and more.