Audio Description (Prerecorded)
Success Criterion 1.2.5 Level AA
Are you providing a prerecorded audio description about what is happening visually in all prerecorded video content?
Why is this important
People with certain types of visual impairments are unable to see the images (moving or static) in a video. They can miss important visual information or context-setting clues because the main audio track does not describe everything that is happening visually. Providing audio descriptions of visual components can help users understand the content in its entirety.
Whom does it benefit?
As a person who is blind,
I want an audio description of what is happening on the screen in a video
so that I can fully understand the content.
As a person with low vision,
I want the option to listen to the audio description of small print and labels used in graphs or charts being presented in a video,
so that I can understand the meaning and relationships of the content.
As a person with a cognitive disability,
I want the option to hear an audio description of complicated visuals on the screen
so that I can have an additional way to process information that I might not fully comprehend just by watching the video.
What should you do?
- How to address this success criteria may depend on where you are in the creation of the media.
- If the video project is still in the planning or development stage, to avoid the need for audio descriptions, write the script making sure all relevant visual information is included.
If the video project is already past the planning and development stage, you will need to modify the video to
include audio descriptions. Do this by:
- Adding a secondary audio track (“audio description”) that describes what is happening visually on screen.
- Users should have the option to turn this audio description on or off.
- Alternatively, two versions of a video can be made available, one with audio description and one without.
How do you do it?
A media file with both audio and visual content will need a secondary audio track that describes what is happening visually in the media. See bullets below for key points on providing an audio description.
- Add a secondary narration soundtrack (an audio description) that describes important visual details that cannot be understood from the main soundtrack alone.
- The audio description should provide information about actions, characters, facial expressions, scene changes, on-screen text, and other important visual content.
- In standard audio description, the narration is added during existing pauses in dialogue. If the pauses are too short to add narration, refer to Success Criterion 1.2.7 - Extended Audio Description.
- Where all of the video information is already provided in existing audio, no additional audio description is necessary.
Need technical guidance?
Additional Resources to help you:
- Making Audio and Video Media Accessible - W3C Web Accessibility Initiative
- The Ultimate Guide to Audio Description - (3PlayMedia)
- Does Your Video Need Extended or Standard Description? - (3PlayMedia)
- 508 Accessible Videos – How to Make Audio Descriptions - (Digital.gov)
- Examples of audio descriptions - (W3C Web Accessibility Perspectives videos)