Shakila Maharaj, an organisational psychologist who lost her sight when she was 20, has created what is believed to be Africa’s only audio description company that produces audio descriptions for blind and visually impaired viewers to better understand and connect to a story.
Expanding on the process, Maharaj explained that there is a movie viewing; from there, an agreement to the ethics around language use is drafted. The culture, context, and era is set to be compatible with the film. Portions of the movie are then allocated to different scripters and a blind person involved throughout the entire process. Once the audio description is ready, a voice-over artist records it.
Technology has been a phenomenal enabler in assisting the blind and visually impaired. Not excluding human rights initiatives, Maharaj said, techno giants have been responsible for ensuring mainstreaming integration. They have understood what the blind community needs and how to integrate accessibility into technology, allowing visually impaired persons to function independently.
Kathy Rokni, the Director of Globalisation at Netflix, shared the same sentiments, adding that accessibility was crucial for the streaming service. Netflix started with audio descriptions in 2015 and has over 15 000 hours of audio description in over 40 languages, expanded Rokni.
The Assistive Technology Centre Manager at the SA National Council for the Blind said the audio descriptions had allowed equal content and plot access to the blind.