Andy’s descriptive audio tips

by May 16, 2020

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Have you ever wondered how a person who’s blind or has low vision watches movies and videos? It takes a lot of accessible media, captioning, and descriptive audio tracks. Let me show you how to enhance the quality of a video for people who are blind or have low vision.

Captioned video:

Video transcript:

ANDREW HOUGHTON: Have you ever wondered how an individual who is blind or who has low vision enjoys watching a movie, Netflix, or even a training video? Well, at Disability Inclusion Solutions, we create a lot of accessible media, features, captioning as well as descriptive audio track.

So, today we’re going to show you some examples of what it takes to embed descriptive audio and captions into videos.

So, today we’re going to show you how we do that and how it really enhances the quality of the video for folks who are blind or who have low vision. So, here we go.

So, in this particular case, I’m going to show you how we produce for the Job Accommodation Network.

Any time you see words on the screen, you typically want to have a voice over under those words. So, I’m going to show you an example of what I’m talking about here. Hit play.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION: Job Accommodation Network. Practical solutions, workplace success. 800-526 –

ANDREW HOUGHTON: So, there you go. You’ve got the graphics up on the screen and we put the voice over underneath. In this case, we also add text for the descriptive audio. So, I’m going to show you an example of that.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION: Accommodating addiction recovery. We see Mark and Dorothy in his office having a conversation about her job performance.

ANDREW HOUGHTON: So, you see we go right into the video and there are several ways you can do descriptive audio. One is you know, you do it before the video starts. In some cases if it’s a really short video, you don’t have a lot of options, particularly if you’re adding descriptive audio in you know, once the product is delivered and somebody sends us a completed video and we don’t have the project files. The best thing you could do in those cases is put a little description in the front.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION: This video features soundbites from Ted Kennedy Jr., Board Chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

ANDREW HOUGHTON: Speakers, Ted Kennedy Jr., Rodney Martin, Voya, et cetera. So, the best way to do descriptive audio is to really write it into the script from the beginning because you need those little breaks in between dialogue so it fits in there and you’re not rushing it. Sometimes people do the descriptive audio and it sounds like the chipmunks. So, I’m going to give you an example of how we’ve integrated descriptive audio into this Job Accommodation Network video.

You see it says Dorothy looking disheveled. She rolls her eyes.

Normally in a descriptive audio, you’re not going to see the text on the screen like you do up here on the top left. We just made a conscious decision in consultation with our partner, Job Accommodation Network, to highlight it and make it accessible to as many people as possible.

As we move from one scene to the next, we’ve added this descriptive audio header –

AUDIO DESCRIPTION: Looking angry and frustrated, Dorothy leaves Mark’s office.

ANDREW HOUGHTON: Between those scenes.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION: Mark, looking perplexed, calls Jennifer from HR to discuss his concerns about Dorothy.

MARK: Hi, Jennifer. It’s Mark. Do you have a second?

ANDREW HOUGHTON: So, typically when you’re including descriptive audio, you want to highlight emotions, gestures, or certain features. This is a good way to give individuals who have visual disabilities more of a taste or a flavor of the ambiance and of the personality and of the feelings and emotion of those individuals who are speaking or who are on camera.

Andrew D. Houghton

Andrew D. Houghton

President, Disability Inclusion Solutions

Nationally Recognized Accessibility Expert. Creating Innovative Disability Inclusion Solutions. Certified DOBE.


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