Audio Description

What is Audio Description? 

  • The accessibility of the visual images of theater, television, and other art forms for people who are blind, have low vision, or who are otherwise visually impaired (American Council of the Blind)
  • Narration service (no additional charge to patron) that attempts to describe the images a person who is blind or visually impaired formerly could only experience through a sighted companion's description (American Council of the Blind)
  • Note: Audio Descriptions are not written out in the caption file.

Different types of Audio Description 

  • In-line audio description: Video keeps playing and description is squeezed into the available spaces of the video so what is going on is not interrupted   
  • Extended audio description:  Have video pause for the duration of the description and then the video resumes, useful when adding description where there is no space in the soundtrack but need to say something to make the video accessible. 
  • Description added to transcript file: full text equivalent of the content in a video, all the meaningful audio and visual information presented in the video
    • Exists as a text alternative in a separate file outside of the video file

Audio Description Policy for course content

Students who have registered with DRES and have an audio description (AD) accommodation will need to provide Accessible Media Services (AMS) the following information:

  • Their experience with AD and any software they found useful.
  • What worked well with regards to AD.
  • What did not work well with regards to AD.
  • Expressing their abilities with assistive technology with respect to reviewing/viewing AD.

Based on this communication, AMS will work with the student and their access specialist to determine the best method of providing AD to the student for their course work.

  • AMS will assist the department in specifying where descriptions need to be added within pre-recorded videos, presentation slides, and/or transcript files.
  • AMS will assist with training department faculty and staff in the creation of acceptable AD (best practices, and how-to’s) as needed.
  • AMS will maintain a list of vendors that can provide AD for departments to outsource their AD needs.
  • Depending on load and subject areas, AMS may assist with the creation of AD and alternative text descriptions.

AMS will also have resources on AD to share with the departments, as well as best practices for teaching students who are blind/low vision in order for those students to be able to gain understanding of visual aides used in live lectures as well as future recorded videos.

Live AD will be handled on a case-by-case basis for “out of the classroom” events. Departments will be asked when courses are identified if any of these events are within the scope of the course.

For live lecture, departments will be asked to either provide one of the following:

  • Alternative text for all visual aids before the start of the lecture.


Audio Description Services

Contact for more information about audio description in your classroom.