Audio description: these are the different forms

Illustration in the Scribit.Pro colors of a bird flying with a flag full of stars in its beak

Scribit.Pro makes online videos accessible. With subtitles, a transcript, sign translation and of course audio description. And we are (fortunately!) not the only organization concerned with media accessibility. The audio description offering continues to grow and can be found in more and more places. In this blog you will learn more about the different forms of audio description.

Audio description is used to make films, series, programs, internet videos, theater, museum visits and (sports) events more accessible to people with a visual impairment. A voice describes what can be seen at times when there is no speaking and no important background noise can be heard. This way, blind and partially sighted people can follow what is happening better. People with brain damage or autism can also benefit greatly from this form of image description. The voice or voice-over provides information about all visual elements that are important for the story, the event, the message and/or the experience. These include, for example, location and time, information about the people seen and their actions, facial expressions and body language. But texts in videos that can be seen or that are shown are also included in an audio description.

Pre-recorded audio description

Audio description comes in different forms. Scribit.Pro specializes in pre-recorded audio description: audio description that is added after the production has been created and before the production is published or shown. The Scribit.Pro editor makes it possible to add audio description in the silent moments in a video. The software ensures that a synthetic voice reads the image description as a voice-over during the video.

This form of audio description is also used on Dutch television. Channels such as NPO 1, NPO 2 and NPO 3 offer TV programs with audio description, such as Flikken Maastricht en Wie is de Mol?. You can also regularly watch films with audio description on commercial channels. That is possible with the Earcatch-app. This app can be used both at home and in the cinema. The audio description can be listened to individually via earphones or headphones. More and more streaming services also offer audio description for films, documentaries, programs and series. For example, Netflix provides all Netflix Originals with pre-recorded audio description. This image description forms an extra soundtrack to the film or series and can therefore not be listened to individually in a group of viewers.

Live audio description

At live events it is obviously not possible (or desirable) to record the audio description in advance. Think of a theater performance, a tour of a museum or a football match. To ensure that people with visual impairments can also follow these types of events, headphones are used with the audio description provided live by a specially trained interpreter. The interpreter tells you what can be seen on stage, guides you through the collection in the museum or reports the sport event live.

Extended audio description

Audio description can also be added afterwards to, for example, an advertisement. The material can then be extended at the beginning and/or at the end, or frozen, to make room for visual descriptions. This is called extended audio description. This supporting image description made, for example, government press conferences during the corona crisis accessible to people with a visual impairment. After the press conference, the audio description was recorded and then the video was published. The central government publishes these press conferences on YouTube.

Audio description from Scribit.Pro

Scribit.Pro's user-friendly, foolproof editor makes it easy to add audio description to a video. Text boxes can be created in the online software program at places in the video where there is room for them. In this way, the image description can be placed in the original video. The software ensures that a lifelike computer voice reads the image description when the video is played. While creating the audio description, the image describer can listen to whether the sentences fit within the time available, and whether the text is pronounced correctly by the voice.

The accessibility files can subsequently be downloaded by the image descriptor. The audio description consists of an .mp3 file that has the same length as the video file. The two files can be played simultaneously by the user in Scribit.Pro's accessible video player. The audio description functions as a kind of voice-over that provides the video with an image description.

Want to know more about how audio description works and what types of image description there are? On you can find more information.

Learn more about audio description

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