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Audio description, also referred to as a video description, described video, or more precisely called a visual description, is an additional narration track intended primarily for blind and visually impaired consumers of visual media (including television and film, dance, opera, and visual art). It consists of a narrator talking through the presentation, describing what is happening on the screen or stage during the natural pauses in the audio, and sometimes during dialogue if deemed necessary.
For the performing arts (theater, dance, opera), and media (television, movies and DVD), description is a form of audio-visual translation, using the natural pauses in dialogue or between critical sound elements to insert narrative that translates the visual image into a sense form that is accessible to millions of individuals who otherwise lack full access to television and film. Occasionally when there is dialogue that is in another language from the main one of the film and subtitled on screen, the subtitles are read in character by the describer.[not verified in body]
In museums or visual art exhibitions, audio described tours (or universally designed tours that include description or the augmentation of existing recorded programs on audio- or videotape), are used to provide access to visitors who are blind or have low vision. Docents or tour guides can be trained to employ audio description in their presentations. Audio description of sporting events is now becoming more common, in particular at soccer stadiums.[not verified in body]
Researchers are working to show how description, through its use of varied word choice, synonyms, metaphor and simile, not only benefits children who are blind and others who have learning disabilities but can also boost literacy for all children.[not verified in body]
This article is missing information about History in regards to theatrical use.April 2019)(
Silent films could naturally be enjoyed by the deaf due to the lack of spoken dialogue or sound whatsoever. The transition to "talkies" in the late-1920's displaced this audience, but resulted in a push to make them accessible to the visually impaired. The New York Times documented the "first talking picture ever shown especially for the blind" — a 1929 screening of Bulldog Drummond attended by members of the New York Association for the Blind and New York League for the Hard of Hearing, which offered a live description for the visually-impaired portion of the audience. In the 1940's and 1950's, Radio Nacional de España aired live audio simulcasts of films from cinemas with descriptions, framing these as a form of radio drama before the advent of television.
In the 1980's, the Media Access Group of U.S. public television station WGBH-TV (which had already gained notability for their involvement in developing closed captioning) developed an implementation of audio description for television programming via second audio program (SAP), which it branded as "Descriptive Video Service" (DVS). It was developed in consultation with Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl of Washington, D.C., who had performed descriptions at theatrical performances and had run a radio reading service known as the Washington Ear. After four years of development and on-air trials (which included a proof of concept that aired the descriptions on a radio station in simulcast with the television airing), WGBH officially launched audio description via 32 participating PBS member stations, beginning with the new season of American Playhouse on January 24, 1990.
In the 1990's at cinemas in California, RP International began to offer audio descriptions for theatrical films under the brand TheatreVision, relayed via earpieces to those who request it. A clip from Schindler's List was used to pitch the concept to the film's producers Gerald Molen and Branko Lustig, and one of the first films to be presented in this format was Forrest Gump (1994). TheatreVision sought notable personalities and celebrities to volunteer in providing these narrations, such as sportscaster Vin Scully, William Shatner, Monty Hall, and former U.S. president George H. W. Bush (for It's a Wonderful Life). Sometimes the narrator had ties to the film or was part of its cast; Irene Bedard described Pocahontas—a film where she had voiced the title character, and for the 1994 remake of Little Women, stars from previous versions of the film volunteered, including June Allyson, Margaret O'Brien, and Janet Leigh (whose grandmother was blind) from the 1949 version of the film, as well as Katharine Hepburn—star of the 1933 version. Other companies emerged in providing descriptions for programming in the U.S., including the National Captioning Institute, Narrative Television Network, and others.
In 2000, the BBC voluntarily committed to providing descriptions for at least 20% of its programming annually. In practice, the BBC has often exceeded these targets. In 2009, BBC iPlayer became the first streaming video on-demand service in the country to support AD. On January 29, 2009, The Accessible Channel was launched in Canada, which broadcasts "open" audio descriptions on all programming via the primary audio track. Audio description has also been extended to live events, including sporting events, the ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, among others.
In April 2015, in response to criticism by disability rights activists after its 2015 premiere of Daredevil—a series based on a comic book character who himself is blind—the subscription streaming service Netflix announced that it had added support for audio description, beginning with Daredevil, and would add descriptions to current and past original series on the platform over time. The following year, as part of a settlement with the American Council of the Blind, Netflix agreed to provide descriptions for its original series within 30 days of their premiere, and add screen reader support and the ability to browse content by availability of descriptions.
Legal mandates in television broadcastingEdit
Under CRTC rules, broadcast television stations and former Category A services that dedicate more than half of their programming to dramatic programs, must broadcast at least four hours of programming with audio descriptions (known in Canadian English as described video) per-week, with two hours of this "original" to the channel per-week. These programs must be drawn from children's, documentary, general entertainment, human interest, reality, or variety genres. Broadcasters must also promote the availability of DV programming, including airing a standard bumper and logo before programs offering description . All television providers are also required to carry AMI-tv (formerly The Accessible Channel), a specialty channel that broadcasts all programming with descriptions on the primary audio track.
Under new standard conditions of license, beginning September 1, 2019 all broadcasters owned by vertically integrated conglomerates, as well as any channel previously subject to license conditions specifying minimums for DV, must supply described video for any programming scheduled during primetime hours (7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.) that falls within the aforementioned genres. Citing the possibility that not enough imported U.S. programming may be supplied with descriptions for their first airing, and the burden this may place on their ability to carry these programs, Bell Media, Corus Entertainment, and Rogers Media proposed an amendment to exempt foreign programming that is received within 72 hours of its scheduled airing — provided that any future airings of the same program in primetime contain descriptions.
Initially, audio description was provided as a public service. However, in 2000, the Federal Communications Commission would enact a policy effective April 1, 2002, requiring the affiliates of the four major television networks in the top 25 markets, and television providers with more than 50,000 subscribers via the top 5 cable networks as determined by Nielsen ratings, to offer 50 hours of programming with descriptions during primetime or children's programming per-quarter. However, the order faced a court challenge led by the MPAA, who questioned the FCC's jurisdiction on the matter. In November 2002, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the FCC had no statutory jurisdiction to enforce such a rule.
This was rectified in 2010 with the passing of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which gave the FCC jurisdiction to enforce video description requirements. The previously-intended quotas were reinstated on July 1, 2012, and have been gradually increased to require more programming and wider participation since their implementation.
Broadcast audio description in the U.K. is delivered digital terrestrially on a separate track containing the narration only, making it possible to adjust the AD volume separately from that of the main audio track from the television programme before the receiver mixing is performed. However, on digital receivers that lack any kind of audio pre-mixing ability such as is the case with a number of digital satellite television or cable television or ATSC receivers, the AD track is provided with the narration already mixed in and has to be manually selected as either a SAP for ATSC or another language for DVB.
In movie theaters, audio description can be heard using DVS Theatrical and similar systems (including DTS-CSS and Dolby Screentalk). Users listen to the description on a wireless headset.
In live theaters, patrons also receive the description via a wireless device, a discreet monaural receiver. However, the description is provided live by describers located in a booth acoustically insulated from the audience, but from where they have a good view of the performance. They make their description which is fed to a small radio transmitter.
Descriptions on video are typically delivered via an alternate audio track, either as a separate track containing the narration only (which, if the playback device is capable of doing so, is mixed with the primary audio track), or on a secondary audio track pre-mixed with the primary track, such as a secondary audio program (SAP).
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Audio descriptions.|
- "Description Key for Educational Media" by The Described and Captioned Media Program
- ACB's Audio Description Project
- Audio Description Associates
- "Who's Watching? A Profile of the Blind and Visually Impaired Audience for Television and Video"
- List of UK audio described programmes on TV
- List of UK audio described DVDs
- Joe Clark on audio description
- E-Inclusion Research Network
- Media Access Australia: Audio Description
- VocalEyes, UK audio description charity, providing access to the arts for blind and partially sighted people
- Audiodescription-france.org ‹See Tfd›(in French)
- Audio Description Association (Hong Kong)
Examples of audio descriptionEdit
- Description of Neighbours and The Motorman from the National Film Board of Canada (QuickTime)