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Alexa can now play audio films – for the blind and visually impaired

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Thanks to a cooperation between ARD, ZDF, Arte and the German Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBSV), you can now conveniently call up audio films using voice control via Amazon Alexa.

Amazon Echo Dot (4th generation with Alexa, blue-gray) – 39.99 euros *


Despite the visual impairment, don’t miss anything from the film

Especially for blind and visually impaired people, it is a great relief to be able to operate the devices in the household using their voice. A smart home system is of course made for this. The ability to use voice control to make calls, set an alarm clock or play music has long since become part of everyday life for normal-sighted people. Now all audio films from broadcasters ARD, ZDF and ARTE can be conveniently called up and controlled via devices with Alexa voice control.

In audio films, the most important events taking place on the screen are reproduced in films and series via audio description. When the actors are not speaking, the action is reproduced in brief words or the appearance, gestures and facial expressions of the actors are described. Subtitles in dialogues in foreign languages ​​or all aspects that are visual for the film, such as street signs or license plates, are also reproduced. This is a great relief for people with visual impairment, as it allows them to fully experience what is happening on the screen and not miss any aspect that is important for the plot. This is important for action films, as the action often runs too fast here, but also for documentaries, because smaller details are often important for the overall impression.

“Alexa, open audio film”

On the website “hörfilm.info” supported by the DBSV you can see which films and series contain audio descriptions. This page is updated regularly with new publications. You can see here which audio films can be played with Amazon Alexa. You can currently access and control 3,925 audio films from the media libraries of the public broadcasters ARD, ZDF and ARTE free of charge on all Alexa-enabled devices. The media libraries can be searched for specific content or you can be surprised. Possible voice commands here are: “Alexa, search for crime scene” or “Alexa, what can I see from ARTE?” Of course, you can also watch individual episodes of supported series and pause or stop the content. This is possible with all Alexa-enabled devices such as the Echo Dot * or Echo Show *, but also the Fire TV * or the Fire Tablets *.

Public broadcasters are still interested in accessibility

Accessibility is also an important concern for the program managers of the participating broadcasters. “Providing the audience with low-barrier access to our content is our top priority. Since 2013, all feature films, TV films, series and documentaries with audio description have been offered on the main evening in the first, meanwhile many live broadcasts as well as the series on the previous evening and some programs in the afternoon and later evening, especially on the weekend, have audio description … We are pleased, to be able to use the technical possibilities of voice control and to make our content even more easily available to blind and visually impaired people with the HÖRFILM skill ”, says Benjamin Fischer, Head of ARD Online.


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