The Discovery+ app and the Discovery+ website have a wealth of non-fiction content from an extensive list of channels. Unfortunately, at this time they do not offer audio description. The chat representative I contacted a few months ago said, “This particular feature is not yet available in this version of Discovery+, but it's a great idea so thanks for the feedback. I am going to share this with the developers to review.” Audio description has yet to be added to content in the app, but the process of adding audio description can be a long and involved one, see this article (Note the Blindy.TV service described in that article is no longer available) for some details on some of the challenges in bringing audio description to programming.
However, if you are willing to watch programs without audio description, below is the list of channels available with Discovery+.
- American Heroes Channel
- Animal Planet
- Cooking Channel
- Destination America
- Discovery Life
- DIY Channel
- Food Network
- History Channel
- ID (Investigation Discovery)
- Magnolia Network
- OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network)
- Planet Earth (from BBC)
- Science Channel
- Travel Channel
For this article, I used an iPhone 13 Mini and an M1 MacBook Air to test the service.
Getting Discovery+, Help, and Supported Devices
There is a help link on the Discovery+ website. The Help Center has many categories including Watching Shows and Technical Assistance. Only Chat is available and accessible. There is no telephone support. In addition, There is a Help link in the Discovery+ iOS app in the Account tab.
Discovery+ is compatible with iOS and Android as well as with smart TVs and a lot of other devices.
Once you have installed the app or have chosen to use the website, you will need to create an account. At this time, Discovery+ offers a 7-day free trial. After that, there are two plans: ad free for $6.99 per month or with ads for $4.99 per month. You can have up to five people, including yourself, on the account. Four devices can be used simultaneously. At the time of this writing, a student discount is available. Verizon customers who subscribe to certain unlimited plans can get one year for free.
The Discovery+ home screen has five tabs at the bottom of the screen. They are Home, Browse, My List, Search, and Account. Near the top of the screen are category tabs such as Food, True Crime, Documentaries, Relationships, Science & Technology, and Lifestyle. There is also a For You tab. In the middle of the screen is information about different shows and also links to different Discovery+ channels.
The Browse tab has the same categories as on the home screen. In the top left corner is a Trending button and an A-Z button. By default, the Trending button is selected. If you select the A-Z button, your results will be selected alphabetically. If you flick right, you will hear a list of categories such as Food, Relationships, True Crime, and Nature & Animals. Selecting a category brings up a list of programs in that category. Below the categories list are options to choose specific channels and a description of some popular programs.
Selecting a category brings up a list of shows which meet the criteria. For example, I chose Nature and Animals and then chose a show called “Dogs 101.” On the new screen was information about the show, a Play Now button, and a Favorite Add button. Selecting the Favorite Add button adds the item to your list. Under the Favorite Now button are three tabs: Episodes, About the Show, and You May Also Like. If the show has more than one episode, they will be listed below the three tabs.
The My List tab is where your list of saved shows is located. As you explore the Browse section, find an item that interests you and select it. If you want to save the item to your list, activate the item’s Favorite Add button.
The Search tab has an Edit box at the top of the screen. Results are located below the Edit box. If no text is in the Search box, there are several search categories including Recommended for You, Top Searches, and Just Added. Also in this area is an option to access your list.
The first item in the Account tab is Add Profile.
It is very easy to create a profile for Discovery+. Go to the Account tab and then flick right to the Create Profile button. An edit box will open. Enter the person’s name and select the Done button in the upper left corner. There is also a button to manage profiles.
Below the profile information is the Settings button. This is where you control notifications and access to your device. Below the Settings heading is the Help link.
Once an item is selected, it will begin playing within a few seconds. If you flick around the screen, you will find that VoiceOver is reading whatever information is presented about what is playing. For example, if you play a show with many episodes, the episodes list will remain on the screen. With sighted assistance, I learned that the information was not visible and only the video is on the screen. Unfortunately, the playback controls are not very accessible. While content is playing, if you double tap near the top third of the screen, an unlabeled box brings up playback controls. VoiceOver does not say anything. Controls are on the screen for about three seconds. There are two buttons at the top of the screen: Watch from Start and Watch Live. They can bring up the controls, but again, the controls disappear in about 3 seconds. If you swipe right from the "Watch live" button after pressing it you can find the controls briefly. The first two items are labeled "10" and seem to rewind and fastforward by 10 seconds respectively. Next you will see the curent time and finally, the total time of the program.
The two finger-double tap does work for start and stop. If you have an Apple Watch, playback controls will be there and easy to use.
Discovery+ on the Mac
Discovery+ works well on the Mac. The same categories as on the iOS device are on the website. However, your list does not sync with the iOS app. If you are watching the same show on the app and website, that doesn’t sync either. The website has a lot of information but little clutter. If profiles have been set up, they too will be there. Playback controls are accessible. Once content is playing, VO-Right Arrow to playback controls. If that does not work, VO-Right Arrow to Full Screen. Do not select it. Instead, VO-Left Arrow until you hear the playback controls. You can also try using the forms option in the VoiceOver rotor.
Although Discovery+ does not offer audio description at this time, the streaming service offers a lot of content. It would be a considerable improvement if they offered audio description. The relatively inaccessible playback controls on the iOS app is a negative. The website does offer accessible playback controls however.
To try Discovery+, check out their free trial. If you have an unlimited plan with Verizon, call to find out if you are eligible for a free one-year subscription.
This article is made possible in part by generous funding from the James H. and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, Huntington, West Virginia.