Zagga Entertainment aims to offer Netflix for the blind

The planned Canadian SVOD aims to ensure the visually impaired get the joke or don't miss a key plot point when watching movies or shows, creator Kevin Shaw told Playback.
watching movie TV - shutterstock-1

Kevin Shaw insists Canada needs a Netflix for the blind.

So Shaw, who lost his vision at 19 years of age, is launching Zagga Entertainment as subscription VOD service offering movies and TV shows that include  described video, uncut and commercial free.

The VOD platform for both sighted and vision impaired viewers is looking to get off the ground via an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign, before Shaw approaches larger investors to finance development and the launch of the SVOD service.

It’s all about technological control and accessibility for the visually impaired, Shaw explains, as they look to enjoy films and TV shows.

The Canadian TV market has come a long way with closed captioning for the deaf, he explained.

But the visually impaired are well behind in being able to access a description track for movies and TV shows they might experience.

The CRTC mandates only four hours of described programming per week in a broadcaster’s regular programming offering to serve blind or partially sighted Canadians.

And while movie theaters may offer for wide release movies described video – where a voice-over description of a video’s visual elements with narration is overlaid in between dialogue – that convenience has hardly migrated to VOD.

Shaw said Netflix, Hulu and the major Hollywood studios are deadlocked over who should pay to provide described video for movies and TV shows.

“Every movie on the website that we plan to offer will have describe video track on films and TV shows,” he added of his planned Zagga service.

He sees the Netflix for the blind service as timely while Canadians either cut or shave the cord, or watch movies and TV shows on smart TVs, tablets, the Internet and game consoles.

The snag is playback controls on digital platforms are often invisible and visual cues may not translate to speech software.

“Zagga Entertainment is solving these challenges by creating a service that will aggregate described video content and present it on a platform that is accessible to assistive technology such as screen readers,” Shaw said.

- Image courtesy of Shutterstock 

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