Accessible Technology

Audio Description

What is description generally?

When providing instructional material, there are many methods to choose from.  There can be an assortment from presentations with visual aids or motion demonstration to a textbook chapter for reference or coursework.  These are a variety of ways to share or receive information, and the method itself is called description. 

Audio description, in particular, addresses the information orally to the audience for anything motion-pictured or animated in order to fully enrich the experience and to ensure that all can enjoy it.

Audio Description for Videos

When watching a video of some sort, most may see the location where it is taking place or the tools being used, yet for those with low vision or who are blind they could be none the wiser.  These may be important to the plot and crucial to understand the message being conveyed.

If an educational video was set in a prestigious place of learning or advancement, someone who is blind would miss the wanted emphasis of a great location if it were never orally conveyed.  That is where audio description would give fruition to the intention by verbalizing the location, such as the Cal Poly Pomona University or the Jet Propulsion Laboratories.

In a STEM video, the setting could be in a laboratory and one would see the process for an experiment and the results.  Yet without audio description those with low vision may not realize whether this is a chemical solution and product, a blood sample tested for anomalies, or testing a solid compound’s limits.

Furthermore, audio description can be beneficial to anyone in general.  There are times when something depicted in a video is something we may not fully recognize or have any knowledge about and audio description can help clear the mystery.  We could learn of a tool or an esteemed institution we may not have had any prior knowledge about.

Alternative Text

Whenever there is a static, visual depiction of something without any audio commentary, an alternative text can resolve the issue.  Alternative text is meant to be used in presentations, projects, webpages, and more for any 2D related creations that could occupy its contents.  It can also be used for explaining items that are written out that may otherwise not be understood such as acronyms and abbreviations.

Take for example a diagram of the water cycle, it can be very useful to describe this intricate, interconnected, and self-sustaining process.  An alternative text is definitely needed to ensure the diagram is available to all, and thus, the reiteration becomes reinforcement for this facet of knowledge for many.

In the event you want to explore audio description and alternative text further, be sure to peruse the modicum of resources found for your benefit down below.



  • What is Audio Description? – An informative page about audio description from an initiative of the American Council of the Blind called the Audio Description Project.  They contracted the Audio Descriptions Associates, LLC to work in tandem. source: American Council of the Blind.
  • Guideline G: Math – A section in a document on how to make math accessible including making an audio description of it. source: National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM).
  • The Visual Made Verbal – A book offering the first overview of audio description. source: Dog Ear Publishing.
  • Resources – NCAM’s resources for describing STEM images, DTB Standards, and National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAS) links.



  • Red blood cell production – From the U.S. National Library of Medicine comes an educational video with audio description. source: U.S. National Library of Medicine.


Related Articles:

  • Audio Description Services – Bridge Multimedia’s introduction into its audio description services. source: Bridge Multimedia.
  • Building New Paths To Accessibility – The DIAGRAM Center is an initiative that promotes and provides services to create accessible educational material. source: Benetech.