Our Describers analyze each video carefully to determine what visual content should be described. Their goal is to keep the description as concise as possible so as not to take away from the flow of the video. They follow the best practices in the Audio Description standards from the Audio Description Coalition, and the Description Key from DCMP (see What to describe?, How to describe? and Quick Reference sheet), when doing this analysis. Our Describers are members of the Audio Description Coalition and participate in the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), so they are staying current with the practices in the field -- deciding what to describe is an actively debated topic in these forums.
When preparing Audio Description of video content, there are several main considerations. The first is intent: "what is the intent of the video?" If the intent is educational, sometimes it is necessary to describe all of the visual content for the more complete understanding by the student. This is when extended description is employed, allowing the Describer to insert all of the important information. If the intent of the video is thoroughly explained by the audio portion of the video, it is not always necessary to describe the visuals. Visual information is only described if it will add to understanding and/or enjoyment.
A second consideration is missing information: "Is visual information referred to by the speaker?" This can be true in all video products; educational; informational, tribute, entertainment, etc. The trained Describer will listen for what is missing in the presenter/speaker’s audio track, to be able to add this missing (visual) information.
A third consideration is time: sometimes, the Describer has to make an objective decision as to what to describe and how to describe it. This is especially true when providing traditional Audio Description. In this form of description, descriptive information can only be inserted in the natural pauses of the dialogue or narration. This limits the amount of description that can be provided at any given time. "Difficult" decisions about the most important visual information must be made.
In extended description, there is more flexibility in what information can be described. The media is stopped to allow the description to be inserted into the video. Although this seems to be a good solution to the problem of time, it also creates its own time problem. Stopping a video every few minutes, or seconds, can break up the flow of the video, to a point where the original intent of the video is lost. For this reason, decisions about the amount of visual information require the same consideration, both in traditional and extended description.
Finally, please note that our describers will try to avoid using acronyms in the descriptions because they can detract from a correct understanding of the content due to the TTS engine pronunciation. So, when there are acronyms in the onscreen text, they will be typed out using spaces between the letters, in order to avoid these pronunciation issues. Alternatively, the describers can spell the words the acronyms refer to, but you'll need to make this request via our Guidance for Describer feature, at the time of the order.
Specific requirements and editing Audio Description results:
If you have specific requirements for your Audio Description results, you can use our Guidance for Describer feature to leave guidance for our Describers. They will endeavor to accommodate your request, but note that the Describer is vigilant about avoiding over-description because it can get tedious for the viewer and break the flow of your video, if the scenes contain too much description information. You can also use our Audio Description Redo feature to change the results for free, after they are generated.
Audio Description for other languages:
The standard practice in Audio Description is to not describe narrative content, because it would cause cognitive overload for the viewer (either because they are hearing the narrative content, or receiving it via the captions). Also, our Audio Description offering is for English, Spanish or French content only: our Describer needs to be able to understand the content, in order to describe it. If the content is in a foreign language, she cannot describe it. If it is in a foreign language and English, Spanish or French subtitles are provided, then we can attempt to describe it, but this is a non-standard scenario. If you also want the English, Spanish or French subtitles captured in the Audio Description results, there will likely be an additional surcharge. In either case, if you want Audio Description for content that is not in English, Spanish or French, contact us before placing an Audio Description request. Also note that, in general, it is assumed that an English, Spanish or French caption file will be made available to the audience, either provided by you (if the content is in a language we don't support) or by our service (if the content is in Spanish, French or German), since the Describer will not be describing the narrative track (even if it appears in subtitles).