A recent development in the world of services for the disabled was the introduction of ‘Descriptive Video Services’ (known as DVS audio in the industry), which is a way to enhance shows with a narrative track that describes the action on-screen so fans that are visual impaired or blind can follow the story unfolding on their televisions, with narration that describes “…what is happening on-screen, including physical actions, facial expressions, costumes, settings and scene changes.” While DVS audio is relatively new, it has slowly been embraced by a handful of shows on network television, though few are aware at this point that the service exists.
And then came Netflix and Marvel’s ‘Daredevil,’ the spectacular new show that premiered on April 10th about the blind superhero fighting crimes on the mean streets of New York. And logically (obviously?), Netflix figured they had to ensure that ‘Daredevil’ could reach out to the largest audience possible, including fans of the hero who, like Matt Murdock, could not actually watch the show due to their blindness. And so they announced that ‘Daredevil’ would feature a DVS audio track, and delighted many fans who had heard about the quality show, but were unable to enjoy it the way the rest of us could.
It’s a brilliant PR move, especially as “Daredevil’ is a hero many disabled children (and adults for that matter) can look up to, a man who takes on the evil of the world despite his disability and who oftentimes refers to his blindness as a gift, as it opens him up to his other senses and allows him to take in and enjoy the world in a way a man with sight is unable to do. It would be tragic if a celebrated hero like that could not be enjoyed by fans sharing his disability (or gift if you go by the logic of the show).
And even more importantly, the announcement of ‘Daredevil’ getting DVS audio, and the press that news is getting, will help put services like DVS in the national spotlight, (hopefully) propelling all networks and streaming services to require content with DVS audio to ensure all audiences can enjoy their shows.