Audio Description

Audio Description (AD) is a voiceover narrative that makes visual experiences accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. AD can be used to enhance television, movies, media, museums, exhibitions, theater and live performances, educational programming, and meetings. This section includes introductory information, guidelines, recreational uses, and additional resources.
 
Thanks to the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessiblity Act (21st CCVAA), audio description is expanding across the entertainment and information spectrum. Audio Description is (nearly) everywhere -- but is still unknown to many people who are experiencing vision loss.  
 
 

General Information

Federal Communications Commission
The 21st CCVAA is a long and complex document. You may find answers to most of your questions in this summary.
 
The Audio Description Project
An overview of the service and how to get access to it. This page also offers many links to further information.
 
Blind Spot
Blogger Hannah Thompson describes her first experience of an audio-described film. Her opinion touches on many of the benefits and shortcomings of audio description.
 

Guidelines, Techniques, and Standards for Audio Description

There is currently no national standard for audio description, or an audio describer certification, though most organizations follow very similar guidelines. In this section, producers of Audio Description will find guidelines, standards, and advice on techniques for creating well described television programs, movies, theater, and displays for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. For examples of various styles, see the sub-section "Listings for TV and Movies" in the box to the right.
 
Independent Television Commission (UK)
This comprehensive primer includes step-by-step guidelines for the preparation of an audio description, principles, practical examples, and a discussion of the challenges that arise. Downloads as a Word document.
 
Described and Captioned Media Program
In this 2-page PDF document, Elizabeth Kahn offers guidelines for creating accessible presentations, and a list of resources for equipment. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.
 
The Audio Description Project (ADP)
ADP, an initiative of the American Council of the Blind, advises on what to describe, how to describe, and how to prepare.
 
Art Beyond Sight
These guidelines offer a "basic methodology that museum educators and art teachers can use to create successful verbal descriptions of painting, sculpture, and architecture, as well as works in other media."
 
Audio Description Coalition
In this 26-page document, the Coalition sets out the basic standards for audio description, with adaptations for description of live events, video, and museums and exhibits. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.
 
Described and Captioned Media Program
"These guidelines are a key for those performing description, and cover a range of topics from preparing to describe to determining both what information needs to be described and how to describe it."

 

Listings for TV and Movies Using Audio Description

This section lists sources for television programs and movies with audio description for viewers who are blind or visually impaired.
 
The Audio Description Project
ADP lists television programs by network, and gives instructions for enabling the service on home TVs.
 
Media Access Group at WGBH
This is a catalog of audio-described videos available for purchase.
 
Captionfish
This site uses your location to display movies in your area with accessible technology, including captioning and descriptive audio. Use the filter to display only the movies with the technology you need. Users may also search by theater.
 
Media Access Group at WGBH
Search by network to find television programs with audio description.
 
American Council of the Blind (ACB)
Listing of Netflix titles available with audio description, as well as background information on the project
 
For our UK community, a list of captioned and described films currently playing in theatres. Latest DVD releases in the UK are also found here.
 

Web-Based Organizations and Resources

The Audio Description Project
Information on audio description outside of the United States, including live theatre, television, movies, and DVDs.
 
WGBH Media Access Group is dedicated to providing access to present and future media for people with disabilities.