Two people sit in a movie theatre watching a screen that displays the audio description logo.

It’s finally here: April 16, 2021, the second annual Audio Description Awareness Day. It’s a big day at Descriptive Video Works; here’s why. 

They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. But what if you can’t see the picture? No matter what kind of visual media you’re creating–a corporate training video, a live performance, a video game, film, television broadcast or streaming media–make sure you include audio description (AD). Adding AD makes sure everyone can experience and understand your content.

Adding audio description for your content gives audiences a long list of benefits. Providing more accessibility is always the right thing to do, but, did you know, in some countries, like Canada and the United States, it’s a legal requirement. Broadcasters need to air a certain number of hours of programming containing audio description.

What is audio description?

Audio description (AD), or described video, is an additional audio track that describes and gives context to important visual information in entertainment or education media and live performances. It was developed to provide access for people who are blind or low vision so that they can understand and enjoy visual media.

There are millions of people around the world with vision impairment. Here’s the data from the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • About 285 million people in the world have vision impairment
  • Around 2.5 billon people see poorly and don’t have corrected vision even though 80% of them could be helped with medical care

Audio description helps everyone–its benefits are far-reaching and can help all of us. For starters, it’s a proven learning aid for those on the autism spectrum, children, people studying new languages, and auditory learners.

People with autism report listening to audio description paired with visuals helps them understand emotional and social cues demonstrated through actions and facial expressions. Thanks to narration of visual elements within media, AD helps show emotions that those with autism may find hard to understand.

Children also gain from AD as their language skills develop. Linking words with certain actions and behaviours helps build language development and new vocabulary. AD helps learners of all ages build new vocabulary and acquire new languages.

Audio description services are available in many languages: English, French, Spanish and more.

AD gives flexibility to viewers interested in experiencing video and other media in an eyes-free way. Viewers can understand the visual story without being tied down to one place.

More people are listening to movies and television shows with AD turned on so they can experience visual media while cooking, driving, or doing other tasks.

Now you know why Audio Description Awareness Day is important. As a content creator, you want as many people as possible to enjoy your content. Include everyone by adding AD so people with low vision and cognitive challenges can experience your stories too.

Contact us to find out how you can add audio description to your next visual media project: [email protected],  or call us toll-free at 1-866-818-3897.

To find out more about Audio Description Awareness Day check out one of the day’s founders: Juan Alcazar from JC5 Productions. In Juan’s video he explains the purpose of the day, and how you can raise awareness by demonstrating audio description to someone you know who isn’t familiar with it.

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