Provide audio descriptions for time-based media

Applicable Role(s): Content Creator


Audio descriptions allow people who are blind, have low vision, or other vision disabilities to hear what's happening or displayed on the screen that they can't see. Audio descriptions are an additional audio file that can be played over a video to describe the visual content in order to progress with the narrative.

Best Practices and Tips

For Adding Audio Description

  • Only describe what is physically observable. Do not make assumptions or add your own conclusions about the content.
  • The voice of the describer should be distinguishable from the tone and range of other voices, so it is easier to hear.
  • Description should start generally, then go into more context and detail as needed.
  • If the video is on YouTube/Vimeo, either
    • Create an alternate video with an audio description track, or
    • Use a media player that supports audio description like OzPlayer or AblePlayer

For Reducing Audio Description Needs

There are also ways to reduce the need to include audio description in your video to save you time and money.

Use a script

When creating captions, look over your script to see if you can add in some language that describes the screen or identifies who's talking.

Avoid "here/this" phrases

Avoid phrases like "over here" or "when I do this" and replace them with more descriptive language (e.g. "when I click on the grades tab in the course menu..."). Read your script and see if you can make sense of the language without visuals. If you can, you won't need an additional description track for those parts.

Have speakers announce themselves

If multiple people are talking in your video, ask them to identify themselves and their position/role. Again, try to represent any text that might be on the screen through audio. This will minimize the need for additional audio descriptions and can also be beneficial for people using captions, as often times the captions may cover the portion of the screen that contains text.


Video with Audio Description

The following video has visuals, as well as a description track of what is happening on screen.

Video Without Audio Description

The same video is just the visuals of the video, but doesn't convey what is happening through sound. This content would be completely invisible to someone who is blind, and less accessible for those with low vision or visual processing differences.