By Andy Sambidge
Dubai airline says it has become first carrier to introduce service for visually impaired passengers
Emirates Airline has announced a new industry first for its onboard entertainment system by becoming the first carrier to introduce audio description on movies for visually impaired passengers.
Emirates' ICE (information, communication and entertainment) system, which was recently named the best in the world at the SKYTRAX World Airline Awards, now offers audio description soundtracks on 16 Walt Disney films including Frozen, Saving Mr Banks, Cars 2, Monsters University, Marvel's The Avengers, Toy Story 3 and all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Audio description, increasingly common in cinemas and TV, is a recorded narration explaining the scene during the gaps in dialogue, while the film soundtrack continues at its normal pace.
In 2007, Emirates also worked with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures to introduce closed captions, the technology used by the hard of hearing, for the first time in inflight entertainment.
As well as showing the actors' dialogues in subtitles, closed captions also include references to sound effects used in the movie. Emirates said that ice Digital Widescreen will offer over 50 movies with closed captions next month.
Patrick Brannelly, Emirates' vice president corporate communications product, publishing, digital & events, said: "Our focus is not just the depth and diversity of our on-board entertainment, but also relevance. Making entertainment accessible to our diverse customers is very important to us.
"In future, we want to add more content with audio description, so visually impaired passengers can be entertained with an even wider choice of content when flying with us," he added.
The ICE system offers a total of over 1,800 channels of entertainment, including over 400 movies from around the world, hundreds of hours of TV and thousands of hours of music.