In today’s digital landscape, where there is a push to increase media access and digital accessibility, businesses must continue to adapt their strategies to effectively cater to diverse audiences and ensure inclusivity.
However, one often overlooked aspect of accessibility is audio description, which is an accessibility solution that enhances the experience for visually impaired individuals. While many people may enjoy a bowl of popcorn when watching a movie, for some, an audio description is what they need.
What exactly is an Audio Description?
Let’s start with the basics: what is audio description? An audio description, also known as a video description, is an additional audio track that offers a verbal descriptive narration of visual elements in various media formats. It serves as an important accessibility solution for individuals with blindness or visual impairments, allowing them to enjoy visual experiences. Audio description provides a description of the visual information or elements unfolding on the screen.
By incorporating audio descriptions into their content, businesses can foster inclusivity and expand their audience. However, the benefits of audio description are not limited to those with visual disabilities. Many products and features that we use in our daily lives today have evolved from their original purpose of increasing accessibility. For instance, consider ramps, which were initially built to make buildings more accessible. However, they have found additional use in assisting with tasks such as pushing strollers, rolling heavy suitcases, and moving other heavy objects.
Captions or subtitles are also created to enhance the accessibility of various multimedia video content for individuals with hearing issues. However, captions have also proven to be one of the easiest and most affordable ways to overcome language barriers in video content. Similarly, while audio description was initially intended to assist the visually impaired, it has been found to provide a range of benefits to a much broader audience, which may not be immediately apparent. In this article, we will discuss some of these benefits and explore why businesses should consider incorporating audio descriptions into their video content.
Types of Audio Descriptions
Audio descriptions can mainly be classified into three categories – Real-Time, Standard, and Extended audio descriptions.
Standard Audio Descriptions
This is the most common type of audio description, where a narrator provides a separate audio track that describes the visual elements of a media presentation. The descriptions are meticulously timed and inserted between the natural pauses of the original content’s dialogue or significant audio cues.
Extended Audio Descriptions
Extended audio descriptions are not limited to the natural pauses within the audio tracks and can extend beyond them. This allows for a more detailed and comprehensive video description. In some cases, the original soundtrack or video may be temporarily paused to accommodate extended audio descriptions when necessary. Once the video description is complete, the video is resumed.
Real-time Audio Description
In real-time audio descriptions, trained describers provide real-time descriptions of live performances/events, allowing visually impaired individuals to access the information in real-time, enhancing their engagement and understanding of the live event. If you are unsure which type of video description service you may need for your visual content, feel free to contact us.
When is an Audio Description Required?
Audio description or video description is required in various scenarios to comply with accessibility laws and regulations. For example, broadcast television networks are often obligated to provide audio descriptions for a certain percentage of their programming. Similarly, online platforms and streaming services are increasingly implementing audio description requirements to ensure equal access to their content. By proactively incorporating audio descriptions, businesses can stay ahead of accessibility requirements and demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity.
Why Should You Use an Audio Description?
There are many benefits of including an audio description within your video or other visual media that businesses haven’t yet realized. Let’s explore the reasons why businesses should consider the use of audio descriptions in their visual content.
1. Expanding the audience reach
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), approximately 2.2 billion people globally suffer from vision impairment or blindness. By incorporating audio description services, businesses can tap into this substantial market segment and reach a previously untapped audience. This expanded reach not only increases potential customer bases but also helps to build a loyal customer following. By providing an inclusive experience, businesses can differentiate themselves from competitors and develop a reputation for being socially responsible.
2. Promoting accessibility and inclusivity
Accessibility and inclusivity are not only moral imperatives but also savvy business choices. By integrating audio description, businesses showcase their dedication to accommodating individuals with partial blindness and visual impairments. This inclusive approach helps eliminate barriers and ensures that content can be accessed and enjoyed by a broader audience. By making their materials accessible to everyone, businesses cultivate a positive brand image and contribute to a more inclusive society. Additionally, today’s consumers, in general, tend to prefer companies that prioritize accessibility and inclusivity.
3. Enhancing user engagement and viewing experience for autistic individuals
Individuals suffering from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) usually have a hard time deciphering on-screen expressions and social cues. The autism spectrum is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain and can lead to various vision impairments. A secondary audio track, in addition to the main audio track, can aid such individuals by describing the key visual elements of the described video.
The audio description also adds an extra layer of engagement for all viewers, including those without visual impairments. By describing visual elements, such as actions, facial expressions, and scenery, audio description enriches the viewing experience and creates a more immersive environment.
4. Flexibility – allows you to remain eyes-free
Audio description enables individuals to experience video content without the need to visually watch it. In recent times, there has been an increasing preference among individuals to listen to TV shows, movies, live performances, and television programs with audio descriptions turned on. This allows them to enjoy video content in a manner like an audiobook, providing the flexibility to engage with the content while performing daily activities such as cooking, driving, or engaging in other tasks.
5. Complying with accessibility laws and regulations
Many countries worldwide have implemented accessibility laws and regulations that mandate businesses to make their visual content accessible to individuals with disabilities. Non-compliance with these laws can result in legal consequences and harm a company’s reputation. By incorporating audio description, businesses ensure they meet all accessibility requirements and adhere to web content accessibility guidelines, thereby reducing the risk of legal liabilities. Taking proactive steps to make content accessible demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and compliance with accessibility standards.
6. Boosting SEO and online visibility
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for businesses to enhance their online visibility. An Audio description can also be used to improve the SEO ranking of certain pages/videos. Search engines like Google and YouTube can detect the audio description transcript, allowing the content to appear in relevant search results.
The heightened visibility gained through audio description can drive organic traffic to a business’s website or social media channels, leading to enhanced brand exposure and potential sales. If you require assistance with your video description needs, it is advisable to consider hiring a professional descriptive video service provider. At DUBnSUB, we specialize in incorporating audio description in the most effective and efficient manner possible, ensuring a high-quality experience for your audience.
In an era where accessibility and inclusivity are increasingly vital, businesses should recognize the importance of incorporating audio descriptions into their content. By doing so, they not only enhance the accessibility of their materials but also ensure compliance with various digital accessibility requirements and guidelines.
Incorporating audio description is not only a practical and ethical decision, but it also presents numerous benefits for businesses. In today’s world, the advantages of audio description have extended beyond its initial purpose of assisting individuals with visual impairments.
Being a reputable audio visual and media localization company, DUBnSUB provides customers with excellent audio narratives. Whether your material is TV series, movies, study lectures, or commercial advertisements, we offer text and audio description services that are tailored to our client’s needs.