‘The viewing experience with audio description is much more complete than that without audio description.’

Suleima LucianoExpert by experience in audio description
Portrait of Suleima with a yellow block behind it, between yellow quotes it says: It's a shame when audio description is missing, but it doesn't keep me awake at night. So be it.


Suleima Luciano is 31 years old and lives with three men: her boyfriend and her two sons, aged three and four. She works part-time as a management assistant for the municipality of Zwolle, where she also enjoys living. Suleima was born in Curaçao and emigrated to the Netherlands just before she was ten years old. Suleima has about 5% vision due to the genetic retinal disease cone-rod dystrophy. Fortunately, her disease, which she has had since birth, has been stable for years. Suleima is a real music lover and she sings in a church choir. Another hobby is goalball, a ball sport that players with and without visual impairment can do together. The aim is to get a ball containing a bell into the opponent's goal with an underhand throw.

What do you like to watch?

‘I am a real film and series viewer. I mainly watch via Netflix, because of the wide range of productions with audio description. I prefer to watch Spanish drama series, with English audio description. Sometimes I watch Dutch films on Netflix with Dutch audio description. I also use Amazon sometimes, but there is less choice there. I never watch TV; I only use the television for music. I also rarely watch videos on the internet. I rarely go to the cinema, but my experiences with Earcatch are positive. It is very useful that you can listen to audio description in a cinema hall via earphones or headphones. When watching Netflix at home in the evening, the whole family has to listen to the audio description, but fortunately my partner and children say they are not bothered by this. I find watching a film or series without audio description annoying. In that case I'll turn off the television.’

‘It's a shame when audio description is missing, but it doesn't keep me awake at night. So be it.

What was a pleasant, accessible viewing experience?

‘It's nice that with audio description you can understand much more of the story. For example, there are movies that I used to watch without audio description and now I can watch them with support. That gives a completely different meaning to such a film. When, as a viewer with a visual impairment, you have to make do without audio description, and that was the case in the past, you try to make something of the story yourself. You have to puzzle and guess what is happening or why something is happening. The viewing experience with audio description is much more complete. You understand the story better and you understand why something happens or why characters do certain things. I have only now understood the point of some films that I have now seen with audio description and previously without.

In addition, I like it when an audio description is neutral in nature. Theatrical audio description is not my thing. I don't like it when the person recording the image description puts a lot of tension or emotion in his or her voice. In my opinion, English audio description often gives too much drama to the words. In the Netherlands, the voice of the image describer is generally a lot more neutral. That is why I prefer the Dutch way of describing images.’

What do you experience when the content you want to watch is not accessible?

‘I usually drop out when I come across something I want to watch that turns out to be inaccessible. Now that audio description exists, I know that I miss a lot without that image description. When there is a long silence in a film, I know that things are happening on screen that I am not experiencing. That irritates me so much that in most cases I stop watching.’

What needs to be done to make video makers and content providers more aware of the need for video accessibility?

‘It may sound a bit crazy, but I can understand that accessibility is not the highest priority for many makers or organizations. I think most would like it, but of course it comes with a price tag. It can be a significant investment for a relatively small target group. I'm not frustrated about this and I never feel left out. Of course I think it's a shame when a nice movie doesn't have an audio description, but it doesn't keep me awake at night. With every film there are viewers who can't see it and never will. So be it.

I sometimes think: you can make it as difficult for yourself as you want. For example, when websites are not accessible, I naturally find that extremely annoying. But I won't let it stop me. In such cases it is clear to me that I must take action myself. Often a telephone number is listed somewhere. I'll call that then. That way I can get things sorted out.

I always inform the organization in question that the website or information is not accessible. But I will not demonstratively bang my fist on the table. I'm not wired like that.’

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