HBO Max Adds Audio Described Content

By: David Titmus
HBO Max Audio Description
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HBO Max is now offering audio description on select titles across its platform. The new feature comes after WarnerMedia (HBO’s parent company) reached an agreement with the American Council of the Blind, the Massachusetts-based Bay State Council of the Blind, and other advocates in October 2020 to increase the accessibility on the popular streaming platform. The company also announced that it will continue to make accessibility improvements over the coming months and years.

HBO Max Audio Description television menuAudio description is a separate audio track that, when activated, provides a verbal description of a program’s key visual elements − such as onscreen actions, characters, costumes, and text appearing in graphics in the video − into natural pauses between the program’s dialogue.

HBO Max’s initial offerings and enhancements include:

  • Nearly 1,500 hours of audio described content on web and mobile platforms, including select HBO originals, Max Originals, Warner Bros. films, and some acquired content.
  • An easy-to-find audio description category in HBO Max’s navigation menu.
  • Improvements to the accessibility of HBO Max’s website and mobile applications for individuals who are blind or have low vision and use screen reader software to engage with digital content.
  • Articles on HBO Max’s site supporting customers with disabilities, including detailed instructions on how to perform certain tasks that may be unclear for some users.
  • Training for HBO Max customer-service representatives to support customers with disabilities, including sensitivity training and training on assistive technology.

“This process has been extremely positive, and will open many doors for individuals who are blind or visually impaired to both enjoy what HBO Max has to offer in terms of entertainment and education, while also allowing 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. “By working together to bring thousands of additional hours of audio description content to HBO Max, along with the improved accessibility of the website, mobile apps, and smart TV interfaces, WarnerMedia and blind advocates are providing meaningful access to a significant aspect of our modern-day world.”

WarnerMedia said it will continue building on these improvements and that customers can expect 3,000 hours of described content to be available by the end of March 2022, doubling again to at least 6,000 hours in total by the end of March 2023. The company also is requiring audio description as a part of all its new HBO and Max Original programming.

HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering, bringing together HBO, new original series, third-party licensed programs and movies, and fan favorites from WarnerMedia’s library including Warner Bros., New Line, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Looney Tunes.

VITAC is recognized as a preferred captioning vendor HBO Max.