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Re: Best Possible Audio Description


From: Chris O'Brien
Date: Jul 27, 2021 7:27AM

Perhaps I'm misinterpreting what is being said here, but I feel there are several assumptions being made which are leading you to these conclusions.

"the blind use video players about as much as they use mice"

This is akin to suggesting that people from the blind community only listen to radio and don't watch TV, which I can assure you is not true.

" 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."

The role of the describer is not to jam everything you see and hear into the secondary audio track. Describers intuit context and bring that forward, where possible and spacing in a video allows. The big caveat here is that not all information should be weighted equally. The describer will prioritize what is critical to the narrative and attempt to bring that forward - but sometimes that is not possible. If there are larger gaps in dialogue then the describer can opt to include information with secondary and tertiary importance.

As Shawn mentioned, if you are the script writer, you can proactively analyze your script and identify and remove ambiguity, which will limit the amount of description you will need. Audio design is also important as the audio palette can also communicate a lot of information. This is often overlooked.

I can appreciate that it can appear overwhelming on the surface. Keep in mind that audio description is not meant to eliminate all discrepancies, it's meant to minimize them.

Chris O'Brien
Director of Accessibility
Legal and Litigation

OLG Internal

-----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

This email originated outside of OLG. Do not open attachments or click links unless you recognize the sender and know the content is safe.

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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Prison inmates helping the internet become accessible