The app was developed by the Italian company Universal Multimedia Access, which also created the MovieReading app. This allows a caption file for a movie to be downloaded to a user’s smartphone or tablet, so that the captions can be watched as the movie screens in a cinema.
Participants in the RNIB trial, which is available to Apple iOS and Android users, begin by downloading the audio description app to their mobile device. Audio description is available for eight movies during the trial, including Frozen, The Wolverine and The Internship, and for four TV series including Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. These programs are currently screening on video-on-demand services such as Sky Go, Netflix and iTunes, which do not as yet provide any audio description as part of their regular services.
As a program plays, the microphone on the user’s mobile device picks up its soundtrack, and this is used to sync the audio description, which plays on the user’s device.
The trial began on 1 February and will conclude on 31 May. For more information see the Audio description app section on RNIB’s website. You can also listen to a podcast of the RNIB’s Sonali Rai talking about the trial and the state of audio description in the UK.
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