Accessing Videos with Audio Description

Accessing videos with audio description

Features that people without disabilities take for granted can create serious problems for those who are disabled, primarily because creators don’t envision such issues when designing the product. The situation, however, has changed in a lot of countries, and is slowly changing in a lot others by means of laws that protect those with disabilities against discrimination, and guarantee them access to all that those without disabilities have. Closed captioning is one such, where hearing impaired viewers get to experience and enjoy any show as anyone else does. While closed captioning is meant for those with hearing disabilities, audio description is meant for those who are visually impaired.

What is audio description?

Audio description, or video description as it is referred to, is an auditory narration of a course of events in visual mediums such as television programs, movies and other theatrical performances.

It is an additional narration track specially created for those who are visually impaired, and describes the scenes in detail. It consists of a narrator talking through the presentation, describing what is being shown on screen or on stage during natural pauses in the audio, and sometimes in between dialogues, if required.

Audio description can be found on TVs and DVDs as a separate language track or can be accessed using an audio description equipment at a theater, providing users a fulsome entertainment experience. Though intended for the visually impaired, audio description also helps many others. It helps people understand information better, and also helps in understanding minor cues within the video that might have been missed otherwise.

Audio description in a theater provides information on the visual elements as it unfolds. Actions essential to an understanding of the story and other information like facial expressions and slapstick comedies that a visually impaired member of the audience might miss, would be a part of audio description. The narration is delivered in between the dialogues and is picked up by the member wearing a special, easy-to-use headset.

As there are different types of videos, the way in which audio description works also varies. There could be times when a narration can fit within the natural pauses in the video, and times when they don’t. When the natural pauses within the video don’t allow enough time for the scene to be described, then the original content could be paused and the video described. This would mean that when this feature is utilized, the video resumes playing only after the narration is complete.

Audio description provides users the flexibility and accessibility, apart from being a legal compliance. As the society we live in uses an increasing amount of visual content, and with the number of visually impaired people on the rise, thanks to the ageing population, audio description is a necessity.

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