What is Audio Description?
Videos are full of visual information. For someone who can’t see the video, it can make for a very confusing experience.
Audio description is like alternative text for video. It’s a narrative explanation of visual or non-verbal information. This is essential for people with visual impairments who may otherwise miss out on important information.
Ideally, videos should be recorded with narrative included so that additional audio description isn’t necessary. If recording a lecture video, describe what you’re doing or seeing as you lecture. Avoid generic phrases such as “this” or “here.” If recording a video with a script, plan ahead and include narratives in the script.
Benefits of Audio Description
- Individuals with low vision or blindness
- Students listening to content
- Students looking away from the screen to write notes while listening
- Students seated in the back of the lecture hall
- Those who benefit from seeing and hearing at the same time
- Provides an opportunity for content creators to highlight and explain visual aspects of a video which may otherwise be missed or misunderstood
- Watchers and listeners will get more out of content
Alternative to Audio Description
If you already have a video recorded without a narrative, several companies can create audio descriptions for you. However, post-production audio description is still very expensive and may not be possible for everyone.
Another solution is to provide a text transcript of the video that includes both the audio and visual information. This provides the full content of the video for individuals with both hearing and visual impairments.
Start with a transcript based on any available captions, and then add a narrative of visual elements. The transcript should make sense when read independently of the video. Remember also to provide the transcript in an accessible format.