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Why This is Important
Audio descriptions are needed to describe the visual content in a video to Blind and visually impaired people in an audio format.
An audio description is a narration of what is happening on screen - including physical actions, facial expressions, costumes, settings, and scene changes (see Netflix on audio descriptions).
On some streaming sites such as Netflix or Hulu, this is a setting that can be turned on or off. For other movie and video productions, a separate video can be made to include the audio descriptions (such as the Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces exhibit at the MCA).
This references WCAG criteria 1.2.3 Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded) (Level A), 1.2.5 Audio Description (Prerecorded) (Level AA), and Extended Audio Description (Prerecorded) (Level AAA).
How to Implement This
If you are new to audio descriptions, I recommend watching a video to help understand how they work. Here are some examples:
- Netflix titles with audio descriptions (requires Netflix subscription)
- Hulu titles with audio descriptions (requires Hulu subscription)
- Video of Cosmic Generator (select the 2nd video that says “Featuring visual description)
- Vote for Access trailer by Rooted in Rights
Rebirth Garments took a particularly unique approach in incorporating audio descriptions into their 2018 Radical Visibility fashion show by incorporating the visuals of the models’ physical appearance and outfit into the songs, which had custom lyrics describing their look.
Here are some tutorials and articles that explain how to create an audio description:
- Wistia: How to Create Audio Descriptions
- W3C: Audio Description of Visual Information
- Digital.gov: 508 Accessible Videos – How to Make Audio Descriptions
- Perkins: How to Create Audio Description for YouTube with YouDescribe
Based on the different tutorials, here is a generally accepted step-by-step guide to creating the description:
- Watch the video and take notes
- Decide what type of audio description to create (inline or extended)*
- Create a script
- Record yourself using the script
- Integrate the audio track into the video
*Inline audio descriptions don’t require any additional editing of the original video’s timing. They can play when there is a pause in the dialog or when there’s a transition scene.
*Extended audio descriptions require pauses in the original video. This may be because there are no pauses in the video long enough to insert them, or because the descriptions themselves are very lengthy.
Both inline and extended can be used in the same video if needed.
How to Test This
Manually check that any videos on the site have audio descriptions.
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