National

Toei flick with smartphone-based voice guidance to debut for vision-impaired

Kyodo

The nation’s first movie to feature voice guidance via smartphone will debut Saturday for the visually impaired.

Major filmmaker Toei Co. said viewers of its new anime “One Piece Film Gold” can download UDCast, a free app for smartphones or tablet PCs, to take advantage of the new feature, which explains what is happening in scenes when nobody is speaking.

Until now, such voice guidance was available only at special screenings events. Japan’s four major film producers worked with organizations representing people with disabilities to develop the app after the law banning discrimination against such people was enacted in 2013. The law took effect in April.

The film will be released at 345 theaters nationwide. Voice guidance will be available at more than 140 of them, with plans to expand that to 300, according to Toei. A list of the theaters can be found on Toei’s website.

Toei said it chose the latest “One Piece” movie for the endeavor because the previous movie in the pirate series drew about 5.67 million viewers. Shochiku Co. also plans to make voice guidance available for “Himitsu” (“Secret”), scheduled to be released next month.

In the meantime, to help people with impaired hearing, the four firms said they are also working on attaching Japanese subtitles to Japanese films to be released at the beginning of next year.

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