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Learn about and Use Audio Description in Video for Blind and Low Vision Accessibility

By Mike Thompson, 10 October, 2022

Audio Description Icon: A black square with a rounded white rectangle inside containing the uppercase letters AD and three curved lines ))) -  representing sound waves. - Audio Description for Video and Live Events

In today's digital age, videos are an essential part of our daily lives, from entertainment to information to education. However, for people who are Blind or have Low Vision, watching videos can be a problem. While Closed Captioning has been a popular accessibility tool for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, there is another feature that is just as vital for people who are Blind or have Low Vision: Audio Descriptions. Audio Descriptions provide an immersive experience for the Blind and Low Vision audience by conveying visual information that would otherwise be lost. This includes details about characters, settings, and action that is not otherwise apparent. In this article, we will explore the importance of Audio Descriptions, how they work, and their impact on the lives of people who are Blind or have Low Vision.

Audio Description in a Couple Minutes

Some Short examples of videos with Audio Descriptions

Guadalupe Mountains National Park on AudioEyes TV short example of Described Audio

The Lion King short example of Described Audio

A Longer Example:

The Baha'i World Center Releases an Audio Described Version of An Expansive Prospect.

Visit and learn about: Hear the Dance: Audio Description Comes of Age

Also see:

Where can I find Audio Described Content to Watch?

The Audio Description Project is to promote and advocate for the use of high-quality Audio Description in television, movies, performing arts, museums, educational materials and other venues where the presentation of visual media is critical to the understanding and appreciation of the content.  Our goals are to sponsor a broad range of activities designed to build awareness of audio description among the general public as well as its principal users, people who are blind or have low vision.

https://adp.acb.org/streaming.html


If you use Video in your Presentations or Programs

To create an inclusive environment, it's crucial to ensure that videos used in presentations and programs are accessible to people with disabilities. This means following the International Accessibility Standards for video creation, which include providing Closed Captioning for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, as well as Audio Description for people who are Blind or have Low Vision. By including these accessibility features, you can provide equal access to information and make sure that everyone can fully engage with your content.

If you come across a video that is the only source of certain content but is not accessible, the best thing you can do is to advocate for accessibility. Contact the video producer and explain the problem with missing accessibility features, such as Audio Description for Blind people or Closed Captioning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. Let them know that you want to use their video but cannot because it's not accessible. When video producers hear from consumers about the need for accessibility, it becomes important for them to include it in their videos from the start.

Be an advocate!  Take time yourself to become familiar with Audio Description.  Whenever you watch videos or movies be sure and enable the Language Selection for AD.  Look for this Audio Described Icon:

Audio Description Icon: A black square with a rounded white rectangle inside containing the uppercase letters AD and three curved lines ))) representing sound waves.


If You Create Your Own Video Content:

To make sure that your video content is accessible to everyone, including people who are blind or have low vision, it's important to include both closed captioning and audio description. Closed captioning provides text captions for the dialogue and other audio information, while audio description describes the visual elements of the video, including actions, settings, and other important visual details. The International Accessibility Standards offer guidelines for creating effective audio descriptions for both new and existing videos, so be sure to follow these guidelines when creating your own video content or publishing information that includes video content.

For your convenience, here is the table of contents:

Description of Visual Information

in Making Audio and Video Media Accessible

Page Contents

Described and Captioned Media Program

Resources for School Personnel, Families, Students, and Content Creators

DCMP provides a streaming library of accessible education videos, teaching tools, and professional development opportunities. We partner with educational content creators to provide high-quality captioning, audio description, and American Sign Language (ASL) translation.

Do It Yourself" Educational Description: Guidelines and Tools - Video Description and Research Development Center

Need help producing the Audio Description for your video or need some Training?

One outstanding example of people who truly understand this process is a company called AudioEyes: https://audioeyes.com  Audio Eyes is a partnership of audio engineers, producers, accessibility experts, blind professionals, and audio description professionals who are passionate about providing high quality services in a creative and inclusive work environment. 

See an example of their workflow for how they produce Audio Description for videos: https://audioeyes.com/workflow/

Here's a comprehensive list of providers for Audio Description services which range from writing to voicing to full service and even training!


Final Thoughts:

Audio Descriptions are a crucial accessibility tool for people who are Blind or have Low Vision, providing an immersive experience by conveying visual information that is not otherwise apparent. Just like Closed Captioning for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Audio Description must be included in video content to ensure it is accessible. By following International Accessibility Standards, video producers can create videos that are inclusive and accessible. Advocating for accessibility and contacting video producers to highlight the importance of Audio Description can also help create a more accessible digital world. By understanding and using Audio Description in our daily lives, we can create a more inclusive and accessible environment through our advocacy. We may even find that it is of general benefit to our own understanding and enjoyment of video presentations as well!

Striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building a Diverse, Vibrant, Inclusive, Accessible Community!

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