‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ just got more accessible to blind audiences
Everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
Then, everything changed again when Netflix added audio descriptions to “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
Filmmaker James Rath, who was born legally blind, tweeted on Friday that blind audiences and fans can now enjoy the popular animated TV series.
Netflix, in fact, supports more than 10,000 hours of audio description globally in more than 30 languages, covering most of its original content and films.
The streaming service acquired the rights to all three seasons of the “Avatar” series in May, and since then many have turned to its fantastic plot in quarantine.
“So audio descriptions are cool,” Rath said in a YouTube video. “It doesn’t interrupt the dialog of most films and TV shows. It’s meant to be a narration in between dialog to help let you know the important narrative part.”
Netflix added audio descriptions to “Avatar” as well as its new documentary-drama hybrid “The Social Dilemma” and aesthetic favorite “Get Organized With the Home Edit” show on Friday, according to the Audio Description Project.
Filmmaker and YouTuber James Rath discusses how Blind people access audio descriptions and accessibility features within smart TVs and other services.
Netflix’s accessibility options include audio descriptions alongside features like assistive listening systems, closed captions, keyboard shortcuts, screen readers, subtitles and voice commands, which help those with hearing, sight or physical mobility needs access the platform’s content.
Blind people, of course, watch TV too, as Rath pointed out on YouTube. “Much like smartphones and computers, smart TVs have an operating system,” he said. “And an operating system allows you to navigate things, oftentimes with accessibility. Accessibility meaning letting people have access, even if they have a disability.”
One user added that earthbending master Toph Beifong from “Avatar,” who was blind since birth, would have benefited from the changes too. “Toph can finally see herself on tv,” they wrote.
Rath also clarified that both the TV series and the controversial live-action movie from 2010, “The Last Airbender,” now feature audio descriptions on Netflix.
A live-action adaptation of the series is also in the works at Netflix — even after the creators (Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko) announced they were leaving the project in August.
“When Netflix brought me on board to run this series alongside Mike two years ago, they made a very public promise to support our vision,” Konietzko shared on Instagram. “Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise… We ultimately came to the belief that we would not be able to meaningfully guide the direction of the series.”
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