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Re: Best Possible Audio Description


From: Jonathan Avila
Date: Jul 26, 2021 7:16PM

Many legally blind people rely on audio description but also follow along and enjoy as much as possible with the visuals of video. Also people with disabilities watch videos together with other people and may want audio description with the visuals so sighted, non-sighted, and deaf/hard of hearing can all enjoy. Some folks are also visually impaired and hard of hearing and need both audio description and captions.


-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of Peter Shikli
Sent: Monday, July 26, 2021 8:46 PM
To: WebAIM Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: [WebAIM] Best Possible Audio Description

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July 23rd's thread about creating accessible technical how-to video content inspired some conversations in our shop about the best possible audio descriptions, which I will present for community feedback below.
More importantly, the best possible audio description seems to conflict with WCAG's requirements, and that is where we would truly appreciate some guidance.

Let's begin by recognizing that we are not referring to closed captions.
Those are for the deaf whereas audio description are mainly for the blind, and their interests should remain our focus here.

Our disagreement with WCAG begins with the requirement that an audio description be a feature of the video player as per their glossary's definition of an audio description being "synchronized" to the video (with that never mentioned in the numbered success criteria). For obvious reasons, the blind use video players about as much as they use mice. Audio in the form of a compact mp3 on their smartphones would serve their needs better than forcing them to put the megafile of a video somewhere just to listen to its audio description track.

The audio track of the video is all they need, plus the scene descriptions between the dialog. That latter isn't a trivial requirement in practice. Consider scripting the scene description of a how-to video, which can be the key information of the video. If you thought an alt description of an image was tough, how about a scene packed with information, emotion, nuances, special effects, text images, and all the creativity of a Spielberg.

Then comes the WCAG requirement causing us the most pain, the need to pack all that into the time slot between dialog for level AA. Putting a pause in the video while the audio description rolls complies at a AAA level but builds needless resentment among the sighted unless we're back to allowing a link to a version best for the disabled.

Following is how we propose to make accessible the how-to videos sitting in my in-basket. First we extract the dialog plus music & sounds into a separate mp3. We then carefully script the meaningful scene descriptions. Then we have a trained voiceover artist read that scene script into the space between dialog, but expanding that audio whenever needed.

Such a best-possible audio description would retain the original dialog for its artistic value. How much better than replacing Morgan Freeman's voice with an NVDA robot! And no NVDA robot for the scene description either. More of a Mark Twain story telling to keep the listener awake.
Much more satisfying and informative than a transcript for a screen reader.

The end result would be a link near the video to a separate mp3 audio description that even busy sighted listeners may appreciate on their commute to work as a more accurate rendition of the video. My question is how to make this compliant to Title II and III of the ADA which requires WCAG 2.1 level AA?

Peter Shikli
Access2online Inc.
29030 SW Town Center Loop East
Suite 202-187
Wilsonville, OR 97070
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FAX: 503-582-8337
Prison inmates helping the internet become accessible