What Is Audio Description?

Audio description narrates the relevant visual information contained in a video and is an accommodation for blind and low-vision viewers. If you've never heard audio description, it is often compared to a sports announcer narrating the visual action of a game over the radio. The description of media involves the interspersion of audio description snippets within the program’s original audio components, just like in the example above. This is to allow the individual the benefit of the description, without sacrificing the information in the existing content. The description should provide context, clarify speakers, and articulate visual elements that are critical to gain a comprehensive understanding of the video.

3Play Media provides high-quality, competitively priced audio description services for online video. Once your media files have been uploaded to our system, your audio description will be created by professional describers who utilize our unique workflow, process, and advanced technology.

Here's an example of a video with standard audio description:

Standard Audio Description vs. Extended Audio Description

Standard audio description fits narration of the relevant visual information into the existing, natural pauses in the video's audio track. With standard audio descriptions, there is no change to the source video or audio. We simply include audio description snippets in the existing space. This is a great solution for videos in which there are lengthy pauses (or even no speech at all), leaving plenty of room to describe the visual elements.

If there are minimal to no natural pauses in the source audio track and there is key visual information that must be described, you may want to consider an extended audio description. Extended audio description increases the length of the source video to make room for description and can provide much more context for blind and low-vision viewers. Typically, a version of the video with extended audio descriptions is provided in addition to the original, undescribed video. The audio description plugin makes this unnecessary by allowing users to choose whether to watch the undescribed version or the version with an extended audio description. If the plugin is turned on, it will pause the source video when the description would take up more space than the original video, then resume play when the description is finished.

Supported Output Formats

  • MP4 video with source audio and audio description
  • MP3, OGG, or WAV audio track with source audio and audio description
  • MP3, OGG, or WAV audio track containing audio description only
  • WebVTT audio description track
  • TXT, DOC, or Stamped Doc text file containing audio description only
  • Merged TXT, DOC, or Stamped Doc text file containing a transcript and audio description

Process and Quality

3Play Media follows standards based on the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) description key to ensure consistent, high-quality descriptions regardless of the content type.

Once a written description is created for a file, a synthesized speech solution or voice artist talent is used for the voice of the audio descriptions in the audio and video outputs. 

  • Synthesized speech solutions include options from IBM Watson, Google Voice, and Amazon Polly
  • Voice Artists are trained narrators that record the voiceover of the written descriptions.

Completed audio description files can be edited should that be deemed necessary. Any edits will propagate to all text and media output formats.

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