“Inside the darkened Steve Jobs theater, the screens of iPhones and MacBooks glow. Now the house lights dim, and a video plays on a large display behind center-stage.”
Those are the first words of a new audio track available for the Apple Special Event held in September 2019, which gave details of Apple's groundbreaking new hardware, software and services.
This event had the tagline “By Innovation Only”, which was fitting for the devices and services showcased at the event.
But in addition to the technological innovations that Apple executives proudly demonstrated, Apple also provided an innovation for viewers with vision impairment and viewers who find it useful to have verbal descriptions of visual elements on the screen.
It is possible to watch the September 2019 Apple Special Event with audio descriptions.
People who are blind have typically struggled to understand the marketing videos shown at these events, which sometimes consist of a series of images with little dialogue to accompany them.
Thanks to the new audio track for audio descriptions, blind people will struggle no more. Blind viewers can now appreciate the videos that were shown for more than just their soundtrack.
For example, a blind viewer listening to the audio descriptions for the event can now know that the video played at the start of the event charts the evolution of Apple technology and shows a large number of Apple products available today.
Blind viewers now have access to the same information as sighted viewers.
So how can people access the audio descriptions?
Visit the Apple events webpage at www.apple.com/apple-events. You will need to visit this webpage on a device that allows you to choose alternate audio tracks; you can do this on devices manufactured by Apple.
On that page, choose to view the September 2019 event, and then activate the Play button.
If you have enabled the setting to prefer audio descriptions, the video should start playing with audio descriptions automatically.
Otherwise, activate the button which has the label “Media Selection” or similar. Then, choose the audio track labelled “English Audio Description AD”.
You cannot access the audio descriptions if you watch the event through the Apple Keynotes podcast in the Podcasts app.
Which Apple Special events have audio descriptions available?
As of December 2019, audio descriptions are only available for the Apple Special Event held in September 2019.
Audio descriptions are not available for events held earlier than September 2019.
Hopefully Apple plans to ensure that audio descriptions will be available for the recordings of events to be held in the future.
Thank you, Apple
I feel confident in saying that this feature is bound to make many fans of Apple products who have vision impairment very excited.
Blind people can now marvel in the pioneering technology that Apple announces at its events more fully than was previously possible.
Having access to audio descriptions will allow blind people to appreciate the grandeur of the videos that are shown at Apple events, which some people say are the highlight of the events.
Once again, Apple has demonstrated their commitment to accessibility.