Live Audio Description

Leading the way as the pioneer of live description

Descriptive Video Works has celebrated a number of milestones in broadcast history. In 2010, we pioneered audio description of live tv events by describing awards shows and live reality competition shows in real time. 

In 2012, we broke ground again by live describing the opening and closing ceremonies and daily highlights of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. We continue to partner with broadcast networks in championing all access to these distinguished events today.

Our commitment to raising the bar for blind and visually-impaired viewers led to another first. In 2015, we made US broadcast history with The Wiz Live!. Partnering with NBC and Comcast, the Descriptive Video Works team was on set to provide live description in real time as the scenes unfolded in this televised version of the hit Broadway musical.

“People told me ‘You’ll never be able to do live’, so this was truly exciting for us to be approached by CTV Network to break this ground by providing the first live reality television for visually-impaired viewers,” Diane Johnson, speaking to Broadcaster Magazine.

Live World-Class Sporting Events
  • Olympic and Paralympic Games in London (2012), Sochi (2014), Rio (2016), PyeongChang (2018), Tokyo (2021), and Beijing (2022)
  • Pan American Games
    Opening and closing ceremonies
  • Parapan American Games
    Opening and closing ceremonies in English and French

Live Television Programs
  • Hairspray Live! – NBC and Comcast
  • The Wiz Live! – NBC and Comcast
  • Canadian Screen Awards
  • Juno Awards
  • Much Music Awards
  • So You Think You Can Dance Canada
  • Prime Time Royal Wedding
  • Daily Planet Live – Discovery, CTV network
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – NBC and Comcast
  • Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks – NBC and Comcast
  • Annie Live! – NBC and Comcast

“It’s reassuring for us to know that we can work with you on this live description project. We’ve been on air for 16 months and this is our first live show. We know that we’re in your good hands.”

Isabella Federigi
Vice-President, Programming & Production, AMI-télé

“I want to let you know how much I enjoyed the description of the Juno Awards. The show was so much more meaningful for me with the descriptions of clothing worn by performers and the antics of those who won awards. There was also mention of some things going on in the audience. You did such a terrific job! I felt like I could really see, in my mind’s eye, just what was happening on the stages. Well done!”

Betty Nobel
audio description viewer

“I watched the Closing Ceremonies [of the 2016 Rio Olympics] last night and was very impressed with the live audio description. I have been to a lot of ceremonies over the course of my athletic career, and they have always been highly visual, and therefore very boring. I didn’t expect to enjoy them last night and was pleasantly surprised. Thanks again for doing the great work you continue to do.”

Shawn Marsolais, MEd
Executive Director, Blind Beginnings

“I watched the video described Opening and Closing Ceremonies in Sochi and I was very impressed. There would have been so much that I would have missed, not only the changing of colours of the lights, colours of athletes’ outfits plus performers, etc., but little touches such as the Russian cross-country marathoner, when receiving his gold medal, that he kissed it and put his right hand over his heart when they played their National Anthem. This description really helped to complete the picture for me of the men standing on the podium and my husband said that he hadn’t even noticed that little bit! These touches help to bring out the individual characters of the people standing there.”

Rosamund Van Leeuwen
Chair, PAWS for Independence Association

“Wow, a truly wonderful job done on the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremonies. Thank you soooooo much for all the effort everyone went to in putting this together. The pitch and tone of the voice, for me, was perfect and didn’t waver from beginning to end. I had the colours, the costumes, the lighting and so many little details described that I really felt I was watching it!! The narrator even could identify all the personalities from dignitaries to rock stars plus the various London landmarks and nobody even trod on anyone else’s talking. A truly awesome job!”

anonymous viewer

Highly skilled and specially trained team of live describers

Our professional team all have expertise in the disciplines they are describing. From theatre production to acting to sports reporting and journalism, they are specially trained to describe live programming in real time from around the world.

Extensive research goes into each production or event before describing begins. This background information is integral to narrating each scene or action as the production unfolds providing a seamless, informative and high quality product viewers have come to expect.

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