How do Blind and Visually Impaired People Watch Movies

People who are blind or visually impaired, like me, enjoy watching movies and are always excited to see new releases. When I bring up movies in conversation, however, I frequently get questions like, “How do you watch a movie if you can’t see?” In this post, I will discuss a few different aspects of watching movies for the blind and the visually impaired.

First, you need to understand how the blind and visually impaired visualize—specifically, how they perceive things and their surroundings and how they see the world. Someone born blind may be taught that the sky is blue and that plant leaves are green and experience the described scene in their own way, but someone who was once sighted but has since lost it would have a very different experience, and hearing that the leaves are green would trigger the visual cues they captured when they could see.

Let’s look at how the blind and visually impaired watch movies. These methods will be useful if you or a loved one is blind or visually impaired and wishes to see a movie.

How do blind people watch and enjoy movies?

Blind and visually impaired people watch movies by hearing the original sound, which explains the scene background and dialogs, except for parts of the movie that only have visual elements like expressions and silent actions. To follow these silent actions and scenes, they listen to a special audio description that is narrated to them.

What is an audio description for movies, and how can you get it?

Audio description is a short and specific description narrated between scenes for visually impaired people to provide them with a complete picture of what is displayed in the scene. For example, in movies, a lot of actions happen without dialogue explanation, and audio description helps fill up those gaps.

To experience it, listen to this audio-described Harry Potter movie scene.


Audio Descriptions in Movie Theatres

Nowadays, most new films are released with audio descriptions, and most movie theatres and cinemas will have audio description equipment available at the counter. The technology is a small box with a headset attached to it, and it would automatically sync with the movie. Once the movie starts, the equipment starts describing the nonverbal scenes, which helps to follow along and enjoy the movie independently. Pro tip: Before going, find out the movie theatres that provide audio description equipment and reach early to avail the facility.

Video streaming apps with audio description

In the comfort of their own homes, blind and visually impaired people can watch movies and web series with audio descriptions on their mobile devices or televisions without missing anything.

In contrast to movie theatres, where we need to depend on equipment, here, we can turn on the audio descriptions within the app easily. For most movies and TV shows, Audio descriptions are available on all major video streaming platforms.

Moving ahead, I have listed down the 8 Video streaming apps with audio descriptions.

  1. Netflix
  2. Amazon Video
  3. iTunes
  4. Disney+
  5. HBO Max
  6. Paramount+
  7. Hulu
  8. Showtime


Movies and TV shows are something everyone likes to enjoy with family and friends, and the same is true in the case of blind and visually impaired people. There are now more options for blind people to enjoy online videos and movies. Thanks to government laws and video streaming apps that have taken accessibility for the blind seriously, the steps towards accessible movies and TV shows have opened a whole new world of entertainment.

If you know of any other ways to watch movies, please share them in the comments, and if you found this post useful, please share it with your family and friends.

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