Audio Description Services
Starting in spring, 2017, 3Play Media will be providing high quality, competitively priced audio description services for online video. Once your media files have been uploaded to our system, your audio description will be created by professional describers who utilize our unique workflow, process, and advanced technology.
What Is Audio Description?
Audio Description, also known as Descriptive Audio or Video Description, narrates the relevant visual information contained in a video and is an accommodation for blind and low-vision viewers. These descriptions fit into natural pauses in the video’s audio track to provide context, to clarify speakers, and to articulate visual elements that are critical to gain a comprehensive understanding of the video. You can see an example below:
This video contains an example of a human-voiced audio description.
Audio Description Output Formats
After your files have been processed, you can instantly download your audio description files. While audio description is required to comply with accessibility laws, many video players and platforms do not support description. We will provide several different output formats and an audio description plugin to alleviate the technical difficulties that audio description can present.
Your description files will stay in your account indefinitely and you can access any formats anytime.
The formats provided will include:
- A time-coded WebVTT audio description track that can be read by screen readers
- A secondary MP3 or WAV audio file with synthesized speech of your description
- A secondary MP3 or WAV audio file with synthesized speech of your description and the original audio
- A secondary MP3 or WAV audio file with human voice actors reading your description*
- An MP4 video file with your streamed video, the original audio, and synthesized speech of your description
- An audio description plugin that will allow your audio description file to play with video players that don’t support multiple audio tracks or WebVTT description tracks
*Note: this option will only be available in a later release.
Process and Quality
Without exception, all work is done in the US by native English speakers capable of accurately capturing the nuances of your content. Our professional describers follow standards based on the DCMP description key to ensure consistent, high quality descriptions regardless of content type.
Your descriptions undergo a multi-step quality assurance process, ensuring that the quality of the description meets our standards and that the descriptions do not overlap with the dialogue.
How to Publish Audio Description on Your Videos
Unfortunately, most popular video players and platforms do not support WebVTT description tracks or secondary audio tracks – although there are exceptions. This is why we felt it was so important to provide an audio description plugin.
Our plugin is a simple embed that references your video and plays the secondary audio description track along with your video. This means that you don’t have to publish a second video with a single merged audio track.
HTML5 video allows for the use of a WebVTT description track, although this functionality has very limited support across video players. If your player does support it, your WebVTT file would be included as a
<track> element with
kind="descriptions". Screen readers should be able to access this file to provide description to users.
Legal Requirements for Audio Description
Many of the same accessibility laws that require closed captioning for video also require audio description. In the US, audio description is required in many circumstances under the 21st Century Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The international standard for web accessibility, WCAG 2.0, requires audio description under guideline 1.2 for time-based media. Most web accessibility experts recommend shooting for WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance, which requires audio description for all prerecorded video content in synchronized media.
We’ll be releasing our audio description service in late April, 2017. You can sign up now to be notified when we go live!