Audio Description for Governments

January 21, 2019 BY JACLYN LEDUC
Updated: January 24, 2019

Government agencies use video to inform the public about elections, new policies, or upcoming programs. It allows the government to create a more transparent and immediate dialogue with citizens. Uses of video for government range from public meeting recordings, public service announcements, and information on public concerns.

Over 23 million Americans reported having vision loss.

Meanwhile, according to the report for the 2015 National Health Interview Survey, 23.7 million Americans (10% of the population) reported having vision loss. Providing accessible video for the blind or low vision population is more important now than ever before. That’s where audio description comes in.

All Federal government agencies and programs fall under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and are subject to following WCAG 2.0 AA standards.
Under Section 508, Federal programs must make their electronic communications and information technology accessible. With that said, all film, multimedia, and information technology produced or procured by Federal programs must include audio description.

Note that audio description requirements may extend to state and local governments through “little 508s,” or state-enacted laws much like Section 508.

What is important for those in government?

Important for government: competitive prices, 508 compliance, limited errors.

  • Cost: In many cases, audio description is expensive, ranging from $15-$75 per minute. This high cost is due to the audio-description process typically requiring a significant time commitment and a high level of skill. With even just a couple hours of video to describe, costs can go through the roof. Government agencies want to make sure they are getting the best service while remaining under budget; therefore, they value an audio description service that is competitively priced.
  • Legal Compliance: Government programs must make electronic communications and information technology accessible – that includes providing audio description for any video content they produce or procure.
  • Accuracy: To be truly accessible and in compliance with the law, errors must be reduced as much as possible. Providing accurate audio description includes proper word choice, describes what is relevant or critical to the understanding of the program, and is distinct from the voices in the programming. An audio description service will recognize the importance of complying with Section 508 and deliver files that are thorough and accurate.

What are common challenges for those in government?

Challenges for government: staying within budget, publishing files, finding time.

  • Budget: Costs are essential to government agencies when looking for the right audio description vendor because staying within their budget is a difficult. These programs receive only a certain amount of funding; therefore they must be savvy with their spending. The big question that these programs seek to answer is, is there an audio description solution that fits our budget?
  • Publishiing: Audio description files are not supported natively on most video players. If you’ve ever had an audio description file and didn’t know how to make it available to viewers, you’re not alone. Government programs struggle with this hurdle often and finding a solution can be difficult.
  • Ease of Use: As with many industries, time is a precious resource in the government. Spending time hassling with complicated processes is something they just can’t afford. Audio description can be a time-consuming activity that government agencies are looking to overcome.

What vendor features are important to those in government?

  • Quality Guaranteed: 3Play Media complies with best practices, standards, and legal requirements for audio description. Our describers complete a rigorous certification process and describe all relevant visual information.
  • Competitive Pricing: Though the price range for audio description is often higher than $15 per minute, 3Play Media uses technology and humans to create a high-quality product at much lower prices. In fact, our price starts at $9 per minute – significantly lower than the industry standard.
  • Flexible Billing: 3Play Media is happy to offer flexible billing for our government customers. We’re also a GSA-approved vendor, meaning we have a government contract in place that allows us to provide our services at volume discount pricing.
  • Additional Accessibility Services: Since government agencies fall under Section 508, they’re not only required to offer audio description for their videos, but they also must provide closed captioning. 3Play Media can serve as a one-stop-shop for all accessibility needs because we provide Section 508 compliant audio description and closed captioning services.
  • Helpful Tools and Support: In addition to high-quality audio description services, 3Play media offers a number of useful tools and support. The Audio Description Editor is an intuitive editing interface which allows the end user to edit their audio descriptions. The 3Play Plugin has an audio description embed which allows you to add audio description to videos without having to republish your audio or video files. We also offer extensive customer support that meets the unique needs of individual customers and provide thorough documentation and how-to pages.

Government Customers Using 3Play Media

Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


3Play Media is here to help governments make their videos accessible. Get started!

Get started with Audio Description.

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