Audio descriptions are an additional audio track within a video that describes what is on the screen that’s not spoken. Designed to meet the needs of visually impaired users, these helpful narratives are sometimes called descriptive video.
Audio description tracks fill in information that may be missing in the standard audio track, but is displayed to viewers visually. This information may include information about actions being taken, characters, scene changes, and more.
Audio Description Helps Paint a Comprehensive Picture for the Visually Impaired
Imagine a video for a history course on 17th century Holland; the screen shows the image of a painting by Vermeer. The standard audio track may offer information relating to the painting, but doesn’t provide a student who cannot see the screen any information about exactly what is on the screen.
In this case, the audio track might say, “An aged oil painting of a young woman with a blue and light yellow scarf over her hair contrasts against a dark background. The woman’s head is tilted slightly as she looks directly at the viewer over her left shoulder. The young woman wears a pearl earring that nearly touches her white collar under a yellow garment. Heavy folds of the garment suggest coarse fabric unusual for the time period.”
Now, the user who cannot see the painting has an idea or point of reference for additional content in the video.
The American Council of the Blind and has numerous audio description examples on their Audio Description Project page, which helps “promote and advocate for the use of high-quality Audio Description in television, movies, performing arts, museums, educational materials and other venues where the presentation of visual media is critical to the understanding and appreciation of the content.”
Using Audio Descriptions in Your Video Content
Audio description tracks enable the user to toggle between two audio streams, including the standard audio and the additional audio description.
There are several different ways to make use of audio descriptions in video content.
- Video creators can opt to include audio descriptions in their main soundtrack. While this can be challenging, it saves any need for an additional track. For instance, an instructor might say, “the screen shows a PowerPoint slide detailing…”.
- Audio description tracks can simply be uploaded as a secondary track. This track can include only the essential audio to fill in information the student requires.
- An audio description track that includes the full lecture content can also be produced and made available as an alternate track.
Adding Audio Descriptions to Videos with the YuJa Video Platform
YuJa’s Video Platform fully complies with accessibility requirements related to audio descriptions. YuJa’s HTML5 Media Player provides built-in capabilities to add separate, user-enabled Audio Description tags to a video.
YuJa continues to improve accessibility features in the HTML5 Media Player to enhance the learning experience for all students.