Netflix is set to expand its accessibility feature set in a new update aimed to support the deaf, hard of hearing, and visually impaired around the world.

From this month and through to the start of 2023, the company will be adding additional audio descriptions, subtitles and foreign language dub tracks to its entire catalog of Netflix Originals content.

10 languages, including French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Italian, will be fully supported, with eventual plans to expand to Asia-Pacific languages and unique regional European tongues.

“For decades, the entertainment you had access to was determined by where you lived and what language you spoke, meaning people who needed AD or SDH could not enjoy stories made outside of where they were from,” said Netflix’s director of accessibility Heather Dowdy in an announcement post accompanying the news.

“Our ambition is to entertain the world, and by increasing our SDH and AD language availability to now cover over 40 languages we hope to give all of our members the ability to see their lives reflected on screen.”

Netflix and growth

It’s a shot of positive news for Netflix, which is currently in the midst of one of its most testing periods since leading the charge into entertainment streaming.

This year the streamer has been dogged by subscriber losses, increased competition from the likes of Disney Plus and HBO Max, and has had to cut many of its original productions – even those that had significant fan followings.

While the industry itself has been seen to be moving too slowly in its efforts to expand accessibility features for its wider audience, Netflix however has been relatively consistent in forwarding the cause. It already boasts 11,000 hours of audio-described content, and will be making the new additions more clearly badged on the web and in iOS apps.

By further supporting subsections of its potential audience around the globe with greater accessibility features, perhaps Netflix can begin to make up the shortfall in subscribers it has recently experienced.

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