What do the accessibility symbols in Apple TV and TV apps mean?

What do the accessibility symbols in Apple TV and TV apps mean?

My household, somewhere in the early stages of the pandemic, mayhave transitioned like yours: we started enabling captions onnearly all the video we watch. The young people, they like captions, as it apparently enablescontinuous partial attention and simultaneously provides moreinformation.

Ted Lassohas an enormous number of dubbed, audio-described, and captionedoptions.

But it's great for all ages. Like many kinds of accessibilitymeasures, it most directly aids people who need supplementaryassistance—such as for low or no hearing or vision—but it's alsoworthwhile for anyone who finds it useful to know exactly what'sactually being said.

With varying hearing and processing needs in my home, captionshave just become de rigueur. (And because we watched a lot of U.K.television and need it to decipher some of the regional accents!Johnny Vegas: what are you saying?) In addition to captions andsubtitles, videos may come with supplementary audio descriptionsthat use the spoken word to further explain what's happening onscreen.

When you start digging into Apple's captioning and audiodescription offerings and options, however, you might get lost inthe symbols and choices. For something intended for accessibility,it feels like one shouldn't have to work hard to know what meanswhat.

In video contentdescriptions

In all the places Apple sells or offers video content, it labelswhich accessibility features are available. These are:

Apple doesn't have a specific label for subtitles that translateonly the spoken portion of what's happening in a video, the sortoften shown in a movie theater for a film that's not in thelanguage most people attending speak. SDH may include some plainsubtitles of this sort, because there's not the same kind ofstandardization or enforcement.

Icons on a movie or TVlisting help clarify what assistive audio and captioning areavailable, but require further decoding.

Selecting an audio orvideo option

Apple offers a detailed explanation across all itssupported platforms on how to access audio and caption/subtitleoptions with the TV app, Apple TV hardware and the Apple TV app forsmart TVs, and iTunes in pre-Catalina versions of macOS.

You can select audio-described by picking any language from theLanguage menu or list that has AD in its name.

Captioning and subtitles may list the same language in differentways. You might see English and English CC or English CC andEnglish SDH. As noted above, the CC version tends to be morebroadly descriptive, while the SDH flavor often focuses more on thewords spoken.

When both CC and SDH are offered, as in English for On theRocks (see figure above, where it's listed as English (CC,SDH)), it's unclear what the difference between the two is—it mayrelate to how it's displayed on screen rather than the text in thecaptioning. Regardless, the TV app and Apple TV doesn't let youchoose between English CC and SDH for On the Rocks—it justreads English.

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