Benefits of Audio Description for Blind and Visually Impaired Consumers


Imagine that you are attempting to see your favorite movie, TV show, or performance but cannot do so due to something as basic as bad lighting. The same problems appear in videos for those who are blind or visually impaired. Additionally, it might be challenging for those with hearing loss to comprehend the context of the movie from only the subtitles. In movies, on TV, in streaming or web videos, or at live performances, persons with visual impairments have been missing out for years, only obtaining a portion of the story via the spoken language. But now, things have changed quite a lot. Audiences with visual impairment may now understand the entire story thanks to an audio description project, often known as descriptive video or video description.

What is an Audio description?

An audio description, often referred to as a video description, is an extra audio track that provides a vocal explanatory narration of visual aspects in different media forms. For those who are blind or have other visual impairments, it provides an essential accessibility solution that enables them to take pleasure in visual encounters. Businesses may promote inclusion and broaden their audience by including audio descriptions in the content they produce. No matter what kind of visual material you produce, whether it’s a corporate training video, a live performance, or a film, it’s critical to ensure that everyone can see it and comprehend what’s going on. This is when using video description gets useful.

Audio description is currently accessible on all broadcast TV channels, in movie theatres during select shows, on some video streaming services, on certain cable channels, and even at some live events.

Types of Audio Description

To guarantee that everyone can enjoy your visual products, three primary types of audio descriptions are used in the business.
Standard – This makes it feasible for narration snippets to appear at the natural dialogue gaps in the original material. These descriptions are often brief and to the point to fit inside the given time during the break.

Extended – This goes beyond the audible pauses that occur naturally. To accommodate a longer description, when necessary, this narration is inserted during pauses in dialogue, ensuring a comprehensive and inclusive viewing experience for all users.

Real-Time – With the use of headphones and a tiny transmitter, this sort of audio delivers real-time commentary or descriptive narration by a qualified expert.

Although the audio description project was primarily developed to help visually impaired people, it has been shown to provide several benefits for a far wider audience that is often obscure. We’ll review a few of those benefits below and look at why companies should consider including audio descriptions in their video content.

Benefits of Audio Description

There are several benefits to including an audio description in your movie or other video material that you may not be aware of:

Increasing the Target Audience Reach

Globally, there are over 2.2 billion individuals who are visually impaired, according to the WHO (World Health Organization). Businesses may access this sizable market niche and reach an underserved audience by utilizing audio description services. A committed client base may be developed because of this increased reach, which also boosts prospective consumer base. Businesses may set themselves apart from rivals and build a reputation for social responsibility by offering an inclusive experience.

Enhances Auditory Learning

Each of us has a unique way of processing new information. While some people learn best visually, others learn best when they hear information. It’s common to hear people describe themselves as visual learners or state that hearing certain information helps them learn better since the brain absorbs information either visually or auditorily. In actuality, 30% of people learn best by hearing. Therefore, the addition of audio description helps in the complete comprehension of the media by members of this group. When studying in a classroom context, audio description may be a helpful tool for students who choose auditory learning to help them understand new content.

Provides Flexibility

People can consume video content with audio description without having to see it visually. Those who cannot physically watch video content can nonetheless experience it through audio description. Because the viewer is not confined to a screen, this gives flexibility in the way we consume material. As more individuals prefer replacing videos with audio, audio description is gaining popularity. People like being able to enjoy immersive entertainment even when driving, cooking, or performing other activities, and audio descriptions offer an experience comparable to audiobooks.

Improved Viewing Experience for People with Autism

Audio-narrated descriptions serve as a learning tool as well as a resource for people with autism spectrum disorders by providing more details about emotions and social cues. This auditory support helps individuals with autism better understand and engage with the content, facilitating a more inclusive and enjoyable viewing experience.

Children’s Linguistic Development

Children’s linguistic development can be stimulated through audio descriptions which can be given to them. Understanding the context and meaning of words and phrases used by others is an essential part of language development. Children who hear audio-described content have a broader vocabulary and are better able to make connections between words and activities. Additionally, audio descriptions may make classroom learning more interesting and dynamic for students.

Gets Rid of Perceptual Blindness

Most people don’t immediately see the value of resorting to audio description. For those who are not familiar with the term, perceptual blindness is a mental health condition that causes people to overlook items even though they are right in front of them, typically because of being overly or fully distracted. Audio description can help viewers avoid perceptual blindness by emphasizing on-screen elements, ensuring they never miss crucial visual signals.

Increasing internet exposure and SEO

Businesses must invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to increase their online presence. You may utilize an audio description to raise a certain page’s or video’s SEO ranking. Due to the ability of search engines like Google and YouTube to recognize the audio description transcript, the material can be found in pertinent search results. A company’s website or social media pages may see more organic traffic because of the increased visibility brought on by audio descriptions, which might result in increased brand awareness and possible sales.

Helps Prevent Expensive Lawsuits

The Rehabilitation Act Section 508 and other federal legislation require audio descriptions. Skipping audio description might result in expensive and time-consuming legal action. It is important to always include an audio description to ensure that you are abiding by the accessibility regulations.

Audio description has much to offer the community at large, even though, like other accessibility tools, it was first created for accessibility needs. As a result, by including video description, you not only provide the blind and visually impaired access to your information and shield yourself from expensive lawsuits, but you also significantly increase the value you provide to your entire audience.

When Do You Need an Audio Description?

The creation of audio description might be compared to an artistic endeavor. Finding the ideal balance can be challenging since it can be difficult to know when to explain something, what to express, and when not to express it. Explaining what can be seen and leaving out the unseen is crucial. Rather than offering the listener their personal assumptions, judgments, or conclusions, the describer’s role is to describe what is physically evident and essential to the viewers’ comprehension.

When comprehending information that is only being conveyed visually, audio description should be provided. On-screen text, a change in the speaker, facial expressions, and scene changes are all examples of context-giving elements that help us better comprehend and appreciate the material. Consider tuning into a brand-new radio broadcast of a concert, movie, or TV show. If there wasn’t someone knowledgeable about the subject matter to explain things to you, you would probably be perplexed by certain things. Audio description is utilized specifically for this purpose.

When adding an audio description, it’s crucial to include it in the content’s organic pauses. It is done to ensure that adding an explanation doesn’t detract from the original audio material, instead making it better. To allow for the addition of audio description, it is essential to pause regularly when preparing the original material. If there is visual material in your video that you are unable to convey in the original audio source, it is incredibly crucial that you provide space for description. To give a blind or low-vision viewer an experience that is as similar to that of a person with vision as feasible, this enables a describer to go in and add brief descriptions of the visual elements when space permits.

How to Include Audio Explanations in the Media?

There are numerous ways to incorporate audio description into visual-based information:

Including a Second Soundtrack

This approach enables users to swap out the original soundtrack for a new one that includes audio description when a device cannot combine several soundtracks. A second audio track with the description can be made using a platform that supports playing two tracks simultaneously.

Supplying Audio Descriptions for a Film

This technique only involves inserting a second version of a movie that combines the original soundtrack and the audio description into a single track intending to add audio explanations to visual elements.

The use of a WebVTT track

Including a WebVTT description track is possible when producing an HTML5 video. The “description” code element is used in this file of the video description. The events in this file can be read by screen readers, which are often utilized by people who are blind or are visually impaired.

Supplying Detailed Audio Descriptions for a Film

When a lot of information needs to be communicated, it might be difficult to use traditional audio explanations. In these circumstances, the best choice is a movie or video with extended audio description.

Having an audio description to accompany your visual media is a need regardless of the type of visual content you are producing. In addition to the many advantages of including audio description in your material, not doing so may put you in violation of the law. At the end of the day, you want as many people as possible to appreciate your material, and to achieve so, you also need to include individuals who might be visually impaired.

As a recognized audiovisual and media localization company, DUBnSUB offers its clients top-notch audio narratives. We provide audio description services that are customized to our client’s needs, whether your content is a TV series, movies, commercials, elearning content, etc.

For any requirement/queries, contact us.


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