For years, people with visual impairments have been missing out, only getting part of the story from the spoken dialogue in a movie, on TV, in streaming or web videos, or during live performances. With audio description services, also known as descriptive video or video description, visually impaired audiences are now able to get the whole story.
What Is Audio Description?
Audio description is an alternate audio track that provides spoken depictions of visual elements during spaces between dialogue in a production such as a movie or TV show so that even those with visual impairments have access to the information conveyed outside of spoken language.
Though content purveyors have been slow to adopt the practice, audio description is now available on all broadcast TV channels and some cable channels, in movie theaters during some showings, on certain video streaming platforms, and even at some museums and live events. There are three basic types of audio description:
- Real-Time Audio Descriptions: A trained audio describer provides narration or commentary during a live event to people who need it via a small transmitter and headphones.
- Open Audio Descriptions: If you attend an audio description showing at a movie theater, this is what you hear. The descriptions are integrated into the movie's audio track, and everyone in the theater will hear them along with the dialogue, sound effects, score, etc.
- Closed Audio Descriptions: You often have the option to play audio descriptions as an alternate audio track on a home video release (Blu-Ray, DVD, etc.)
What Are the Benefits of Audio Description?
For those who cannot consume media visually, the advantages of audio description services are obvious. However, as hearing people sometimes benefit from closed-captioned web videos in situations where listening to the audio track is either not possible or frowned upon, so do sighted people sometimes benefit from audio descriptions associated with video.
The sighted people most likely to benefit from audio descriptions are children. Children with learning disabilities or autism benefit from hearing word choices that are imaginative and concise coinciding with and reinforcing the images they are seeing on screen, and all children stand to improve comprehension, literacy, and social skills as a result of audio description.
How Can You Provide Your Audience With the Whole Picture?
Different audiences have different needs. Audio description and other accessibility services from Amnet can help ensure that your content is available to all consumers.