Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2024


May 16, 2024 | by Ashley Eisenmenger

All About Audio Description

Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! Celebrated every May, GAAD serves as a conversational spark around digital accessibility and how, when, and why it’s so important.

Knowledge Check:

What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility refers to the ability of people with disabilities/impairments to independently consume and/or interact with digital (e.g., web, mobile) applications and content.

Digital accessibility is something that everyone – content creators, web and mobile app developers, UI/UX designers, social media managers, business owners, web masters, teachers and educators, policy makers and legislators – need to take into consideration when digital products, platforms, and content are utilized.

It also encompasses a ton of different considerations and subjects. Today, on this, the 13th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’re talking about….

Audio Description

Knowledge Check:

What is audio description?

Audio description is more or less what it sounds like: it is an auditory description of something visual and provides a verbal narration of visual elements present in media content, such as videos, TV shows, live performances, sporting events, and movies to convey essential visual information. It’s as important an accessibility consideration for people who are blind or low vision as captions are to people who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing.

It can be scripted and added to movies and TV shows as a secondary audio track. It can be done live during an award show, concert, presentation, or meeting. In both instances, it provides access to key visual elements.

Resource: Fantastic, comprehensive guide on audio description from 3Play Media – The Ultimate Guide to Audio Description

Are there different types of audio descriptions?

There are two different types of audio description:

  • Standard Audio Description: this type of audio description is commonly found in film and television and provides brief descriptions in natural pauses in dialogue.
  • Extended Audio Description: this type of audio description is used when standard audio description doesn’t meet the needs of the person viewing the media. Extended audio description allows the main media to be paused to provide more space for lengthier and more detailed descriptive audio.

I want to make my videos more accessible for everyone, where are some places I can have audio description done?

The American Council of the Blind has put together a comprehensive list of audio description service providers, though there are certainly others available who don’t appear on this list.

This resource includes:

  • Full service audio description providers
  • Writers
  • Voicing
  • Audio-engineering
  • Training
  • Quality control and consulting
  • A searchable list of audio description providers

What should be included an audio description script?

Audio description is truly more an art than a science, and knowing how to write effective audio description can be tricky. Consult a pro for best results, but here are some things you can keep in mind if you want to try it yourself: Audio description is designed to fill in the gaps on the visuals of what’s happening in a show including who’s speaking, when characters enter and exit the frame, facial expressions, movements or gestures, any chats or text that appear on the screen. Start by watching your video several times and identifying where key visual information is presented, then go back and determine how best to convey that information via audio description.

Resource: Writing Audio Description from the University of South Carolina

TV Shows, Movies, and Other Media with Audio Description

The Audio Description Project has a comprehensive list of media with audio description on it. Audio description is commonly found on new movies in theaters as well as on popular TV shows. Audio description is constantly being added to shows new and old and this list is constantly being updated.

Audio description is an essential tool that provides access to people with many different types of disability and should be widely used. We hope that one day audio description is as commonplace as captions and subtitles.