Audio Description Part 1: Look to Podcasts and Audiobooks for Inspiration
Audio immersion is on the brink of becoming the latest technological trend.
We are the Multi-Tasking Generation. Content with audio description and narration has the ability to transport you to another world while you multi-task. Most importantly, it creates a three-dimensional experience for the visually impaired for content that would have been otherwise inaccessible.
The oral tradition of storytelling has been around since the dawn of humanity – why stop now? To be human is to crave stories. With all of the great advances in technology for visual mediums, we must ensure that people with visual disabilities can enjoy this experience as well. Furthermore, with the sheer volume of content nowadays, many people would benefit from more readily available audio description.
It’s pretty much impossible to digest all the content that piques your interest without it interfering with your daily life. So, many people multi-task. Clean the house and learn something new as you listen to “Science Friday.” Contemplate humanity as you listen to Yuval Noah Harari’s “Sapiens" on your commute to work. Catch the latest episode of “The Daily Show" while you cook dinner. Watch “Wonder Woman” as you Marie Kondo your closet (it truly does take the length of a movie to do this).
What do these have in common? They all use visuals to tell their story. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to fully experience visual content while multi-tasking so you don’t miss out?
Are you on board? Cool! This is exactly the blog series for you!
In this 3-part series, we will explore the current status of audio description in visual mediums. We will laud the advancements in audio description and provide solutions for improving audio accessibility.
Spoiler Alert: At the end of this series you will realize that when you incorporate audio accessibility, you are ensuring the happiness of users requiring accessibility features and multi-taskers everywhere. Therefore, audio description is an effective tool in expanding your content’s reach.
How Exactly Does One (Audio) Describe?
There are many nuances to crafting excellent audio description. It’s not enough to rely on basic narration. To achieve the best user experience for all listeners, a specialized writer should be responsible for crafting the audio description. Preferably, someone who is a part of that respective artistic world. Screenwriters should write for TV and Film. Art Historians or Critics should write for Museums. Journalists or Political Science undergraduates should write for News Programs.
As a last resort, you can write audio descriptions yourself. But what parameters should you follow?
- Place the description during music breaks, natural pauses in dialogue or when visuals are referenced within a work.
- Identify the visual elements necessary for complete comprehension of information, themes, characters and storyline.
- Follow Scribely’s motto: Make it human!
Strive to capture the human tradition of oral storytelling. If you were sitting around a campfire, how would you describe your story? What would you want listeners to feel or experience? How would you spark their imagination?
Ultimately, users relying on audio description should be able to have a choice of what they’re able to access. Fortunately, there have been many advancements in audio accessibility for visual art forms. But Scribely also sees opportunities for streamlining these features. Let’s get to it!
Those Irresistible Podcasts and Audiobooks
Yes, we know. Podcasts and Audiobooks are already an auditory experience. That’s exactly the point! Through examination of these two mediums, we can identify just what makes a compelling story. Then, you can translate that into irresistible audio description for your visual stories.
Think of your favorite podcast. What keeps you interested? What sort of description or vocal intonation captures your attention? What makes you tune out? Are there any references to visual components?
All of these elements are crucial in determining how to craft great audio storytelling. Most importantly, a great narrator provides a three-dimensional experience of the story and transports you into it. Great podcasts and audiobooks use these tools to keep listeners engaged:
- Sound Effects
- Different Character Voices and Dialects
- Vocal Techniques to Build Tension
- Image Descriptions
Use these features as your guidelines when crafting audio description for visual mediums. Essentially, you want the listener to have the same experience as everyone else. Make sure you infuse the audio description with the same amount of tension and detail that exists in the visual performance or execution.
Audiobooks and podcasts are a great source of inspiration for how to create a compelling auditory experience that’s accessible for everyone. Just don’t forget to include accessibility features for any visual content with these mediums:
- Got a logo or book cover? Include all Accessibility (or Alt) Attributes: Alt Text, File Name and Alt Titles.
- Did you reference an image or video on your podcast? Consider describing the image or video to your listeners in a way that they can fully experience it. Then, include an accessible version that followers can easily access on your website or social media. Videos should have captions and audio description.
- Provide alt attributes for every image, graphic or video associated with your audiobook or podcast.
- Follow WCAG and ADA requirements for your website.
- For podcasts, include a transcript with each episode.
Where Will We Go Next?
That’s all for today’s lesson! Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll cover the elements of audio description for visual art mediums like TV, Art, Live Events and Film. In the meantime, listen to a podcast or audiobook and reflect on how to deliver the best audio description experience.
Next Week on Audio Description…
Which streaming service is an audio description slowpoke?
Digital formats for film have changed the world!!! (For Accessibility Devices)
Which museum wins an Oscar for Best Accessible Exhibits?
Interested in learning more about how the experts at Scribely can help you meet your accessibility goals? Contact us today for more information!