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HBO Max begins rolling out audio descriptions

HBO Max begins rolling out audio descriptions


There’s now a dedicated audio description category on the site

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The HBO Max logo against a dark background with white circles around it.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Select titles on HBO Max now have audio descriptions, which are separate audio tracks that describe what’s visually happening on-screen. The option is currently available on the website and mobile apps but not on TV apps.

Audio descriptions are useful for people who are blind or visually impaired, as they provide context that isn’t obvious from only hearing dialogue and music. So far, the described shows and movies include Euphoria, His Dark Materials, Generation, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Dunkirk, and more.

A page on the HBO Max site titled “Audio Description” that says “Blockbuster movies, epic originals, and addictive series – all with descriptive narrations. There are tabs for series, movies, originals, comedy, and documentaries. 2 Dope Queens, 12 Dates of Christmas, A Black Lady Sketch Show, Adult Material, The Alienist, and Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered are shown in the first row.
HBO Max’s audio description category.
Image: WarnerMedia

There’s now a category in HBO Max that lists all of the currently described shows and movies in one place, though it doesn’t yet show up on TV apps. There will also be improvements to the screen reader compatibility of the website and apps.

The audio descriptions and other changes will “[allow] our community to share equally with family and friends in the truly universal pastime of viewing television and movies,” said Dan Spoone, president of the American Council of the Blind, in a statement today.

For shows and movies that have audio descriptions, the tracks can be turned on from within the caption settings at the bottom of the video player.

The caption settings tab in HBO Max showing a checked option for “English – Audio Description” along with options for subtitles in English and Spanish.
Turning on audio description.
Image: WarnerMedia

The rollout follows a settlement between WarnerMedia and blind individuals and advocacy groups that was reached last October. The agreement called for at least 1,500 hours of described content on HBO Max by the end of this March, increasing to at least 6,000 hours by the end of March 2023.