With more and more high-profile televised events like this year’s Oscars, Grammys, and Screen Actors Guild awards using live audio description, it’s clear the demand for accessible content is, like audio description, on the rise. And with representation and accessibility a hot topic in Hollywood, and expanded rules for audio description set forth by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that demand is unlikely to subside.
If you’re only now learning about audio description, you’re not alone. While audio description isn’t new, it is currently enjoying a (much-deserved, in our humble opinion) surge in availability and popularity. Previously, the FCC only required audio description for 87.5 hours per quarter of prime-time or children’s programming on the top four commercial broadcast networks and top five non-broadcast networks. But in addition to expanded regulations and a recent settlement, many top programming outlets are now seeking to add audio description. Adding audio description can now help content creators and outlets stay ahead of changing legal requirements as well as changing audience preferences and entertainment trends.
So what is audio description? In a nutshell, audio description makes videos more accessible to viewers who are blind or with low vision. In the same manner that captions provide a visual way to experience sound, audio description provides an audio means to experience video. It works by adding audio-narrated descriptions of a program’s key visual elements into natural pauses between the program’s dialogue. Many viewers who are blind or have low vision rely on audio description.
With the push for greater accessibility both from a regulatory aspect and consumer demand aspect, there’s plenty more to learn about audio description. To go beyond a nutshell summary of audio description requires answering questions like “what’s involved in producing audio description?” or “what constitutes high-quality audio description?” To answer those questions and more, we decided to get the details straight from the experts in an upcoming webinar.
VITAC will host a free webinar – “Audio Description on the Rise: Why Everyone is Doing It and You Should, Too!” – on Wednesday, June 1, at 2:30 PM EST. In this webinar, we’ll discuss:
- The art of audio description, including what it is, how it’s created, an how it’s being used
- Audio description’s rising popularity
- How audio description can benefit all audiences
Our webinar will feature two guest speakers who are experts in audio description and accessibility: Dr. Joel Snyder and Carl Richardson. Dr. Joel Snyder is known internationally as one of the world’s first “audio describers,” and a pioneer in the field of audio description. Carl Richardson identifies as DeafBlind and serves as the ADA Coordinator/504/Diversity Officer for the Massachusetts State .
As with captions, which now are used by people who are hearing and deaf alike, the popularity of audio description is expanding beyond its original audience. Audio description and captions have also been researched as an accessibility aid for neurodivergent viewers. The additional context offered by audio description is thought to help reinforce the actions and emotions depicted onscreen, promoting greater understanding.
The pros of audio description for viewers are greater accessibility and more flexible content viewing options. But audio description also presents content creators with the opportunity to increase their audience size and viewer numbers. The World Health Organization estimates that globally, at least 2.2 billion people experience some degree of lowered vision. Including audio description for live and pre-recorded events and programs is a great way for content creators and distributors to automatically increase potential audience size.
All the above-listed benefits, the ins and outs of audio description, and much more will be discussed in our free webinar on June 1. Click here to register for the webinar and learn more about our speakers.