Welcome to our January issue of the Accessibility Minute Newsletter! This newsletter is produced by the CU Boulder Digital Accessibility Office and covers one accessibility skill or topic per month. Please visit the DAO website to access past newsletters. As always, thank you for taking a minute (or two!) to read.

Audio Description

In this month’s newsletter, we will discuss the importance of audio description (AD), when it should be used, and some steps on how to include audio description in recorded video media.

What is Audio Description?

A video with audio description consists of a secondary audio track that describes any meaningful visual content during the gaps in a video's audio content.

There are two types of audio description, standard and extended:

  • Standard audio description inserts the description of what can visually be seen on the screen in the existing or natural pauses of the original audio.
  • Extended audio description creates pauses in the video and inserts the description of what can visually be seen on the screen in those created pauses.

Why is Audio Description Important?

When audio description is added to recorded video media, it ensures that all viewers can access important visual information in the video. Audio description is most commonly used by people who are blind or have a vision-related disability. Audio description may also be used by people with cognitive disabilities, auditory learners, or people who need to limit screen time.

When to Add Audio Description to Videos

If all important visual information in a video is also conveyed audibly, then audio description may not be necessary. When best practices for accessible presentations and accessible virtual events are implemented, there is often no need to add audio descriptions to recordings of lectures or presentations.

Following are some questions you can ask yourself to determine if a video needs audio description.

  • Is there important visual information that is not conveyed in the audio?
  • Is the video going to be public-facing and/or be shared with a large or unknown audience?
  • Have you received an accommodation request for audio description?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then audio description should be provided for the video.

How to Add Audio Description to Videos

Creating audio descriptions for video content requires a unique skill set and access to specific technology. For these reasons, many people who need audio description for videos will work with vendors who specialize in this service.

Members of the CU Boulder community (faculty, staff, or students) who need audio description can submit a Captioning Request Form (selecting “Audio / Video Description” as the service request type) or contact the Digital Accessibility Office Captioning Services team at Captioning@Colorado.EDU for more information.

If you are not a member of the CU Boulder community and are interested in working with a vendor that specializes in audio description, check out a list of full service audio description providers, courtesy of The American Council of the Blind's Audio Description Project.

Considerations for Creating Audio Description

For video creators who are interested in producing audio descriptions for your content, the following are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Use a video player, like Able Player, that supports adding an audio description track.
  • Subject matter experts may be required to accurately describe the content in a video.
  • Audio description should include all important visual information, including text displayed on screen.
  • Depending on the resources available, voice actors can be used to ensure the audio description tone matches the theme of the video.

Whether you work with a vendor or create audio descriptions yourself, be prepared to budget the appropriate amount of time and money. Audio description costs can start as low as $15 per minute. However factors like turnaround time and description complexity can increase the cost. Like many aspects of digital accessibility, you will save time and money if you integrate audio description into the planning stages of your video creation and sharing process.

January Challenge

DAO News

Follow the DAO on LinkedIn! By following us, you'll get access to behind-the-scenes insight on our office, information about our services, applicable accessibility tips posted every Tuesday, resources, upcoming event information, and more.

DAO Office Hours are now the 4th Tuesday of every month from 1-2 P.M. MT. Our next office hours will be held on January 23, 2024.

Your Thoughts

We want to hear from you! If you have any questions or comments, please send us your thoughts on this month’s topic.

If you have questions, comments, or would like support with accessibility, please contact us at DigitalAccessibility@Colorado.EDU.