Audio description (AD) is a narrative audio track of a video that describes important visual details that are needed to understand the content.
People use AD to understand visually significant content in video. AD should be spoken at the right time - just before or after an action - and accurately describe the action.
Imagine a scene in a movie where there is no dialog, but the action continues. An audio description might be something like:
"Pat opens a wrapped present, pulls out the family photo inside, and smiles."
An audio description of the visuals can either be provided as an audio track that is available in the video player as an option for the user to select or as a separate version of the video.
- Self-Driving Car Test: Steve Mahan
- Short audio description example (WebAIM)
- W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Perspectives video that includes audio description of the visual information (YouTube)
Considerations for artistic performances
Artistic performances require insight into work that may not be readily apparent when describing. Whenever possible, the artists should be involved in the description process, as the description is a direct representation of their visual work.
The best place to begin is to create a draft descriptive transcript. Working with the creator, discuss the visual details that contribute to the video's aesthetic, meaning, and message. The audio descriptions should be as unique as the project.
Audio description vendors
The Audio Description Project provides a list of fee-for-service audio description vendors.