Apple TV owners now have another outlet for their binge watching couch potato sessions in the ABC Network channel. While the full programming slate does not sport audio description, namely none of the hour-long dramas, many of the network s popular comedies now feature descriptive video tracks. For example, shows like Modern Family , Blackish , The Middle and The Goldberg s have an audio description track, whereas content like Once Upon A Time , Scandal , Grey s Anatomy and Marvel s Agents Of S.H.E.i.L.D. do not seem to offer the option to enable the audio track from the options menu. The reality show Shark Tank does offer description for those who wish to hear visual accounts of just how catty the contestants can be to one another through body language.
To turn on the audio description feature for programs that currently offer it, go to the ABC Network channel on your Apple TV. From there, choose a show and begin playing the desired content. After the ads roll by, press down in the center of the large button at the top of your Apple TV remote to bring up an options menu. Just as with the instructions for accessing alternate subtitles and audio tracks with Netflix, There are tabs to navigate on the screen. The default focus generally lands in the Subtitle section and arrowing up once, then to the right, will place you in the audio selection area. Several programs tested only showed an Unknown option for the content that did not contain audio description. For shows that did have AD, two choices are available. The first being English Spoken Word and English Audio Description . Naturally selecting the second preference allows you to begin enjoying ABC s fare with description.
While many of ABC s newer shows are available for free, older episodes in a series may require you to log in with proof that you have a cable or satellite subscription. These menus are generally Voiceover friendly, however without a Bluetooth keyboard at your side, navigating and entering text with the Apple TV remote can be laborious. You will also need to travel to a specific website and enter in a code from the ABC app in order to authenticate your Apple TV. Having a smartphone, tablet or laptop is helpful for this portion of the process. Be aware that full seasons of your favorite series may not be available even after you have authenticated your device. So don t let a month go by as that critical episode might have dropped from the online viewing schedule.
We ll keep checking back with the network to see if they expand their AD offerings beyond the realms of sit coms and aggressive business pitch series. For now, especially if you need a laugh or two, ABC provides another outlet for those who are looking to cut the cord from cable, yet retain the ability to enjoy audio described content online.
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Joe Steinkamp is no stranger to the world of technology, having been a user of video magnification and blindness related electronic devices since 1979. Joe has worked in radio, retail management and Vocational Rehabilitation for blind and low vision individuals in Texas. He has been writing about the A.T. Industry for 15 years and podcasting about it for almost a decade.