Audio Description for Online Video

July 31, 2019 BY SAMANTHA SAULD

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Online video continues to be the most effective way to communicate with an audience. Incredibly visual by nature, humans connect to this form of content for its ability to create a more captivating and engaging experience. 

With so many forms to choose from, online video’s popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. According to video marketing statistics compiled by Biteable, 78% of people watch videos every week and 55% view online videos every day. 

Our various smartphones, tablets, and other trendy devices make accessing videos all the more easier. However, for the 1.3 billion people living with some form of vision impairment globally, this isn’t always the case. 

Audio description is an audio track that narrates the relevant visual information in a video. It’s especially useful for viewers who are blind and low vision. Without audio description, video content becomes inaccessible for the billions of people who have a vision impairment. 

The influx of video content is undeniable. Video is being shared across the internet at lightning speed, and it’s important that content creators bridge the gap between the amount of video produced and making it accessible to all viewers – including those with disabilities. 

If you produce online video and are looking to implement audio description into your video strategy, we’ll discuss what’s important, some challenges you may face, as well as vendor features that are important when choosing an audio description vendor. Let’s jump in! 

What’s Important for Online Video?

Accessibility: Content creators are realizing that a large number of people are excluded by failing to provide audio description. The reality is, when video is inaccessible, you are minimizing your reach significantly. Think of all the potential viewers you’re missing out on! People with disabilities, just like anyone else, want to engage with your content. By making your video accessible, you have the opportunity to get your content in front of as many people as possible. 

Legal Compliance: When it comes to the law, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. Many organizations have been sued for failing to make their content accessible. If content creators want to avoid legal ramifications, it’s best to make their videos accessible to everyone. There are a number of laws in place that protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. 

High-Quality Descriptions: When it comes to audio description, online video producers want to ensure that descriptions are high-quality. It’s essential for descriptions to explain all of the vital information visually portrayed accurately. Not only do accurate descriptions make your content accessible, but it also makes it enjoyable for the viewers who rely on audio description the most. 

User Experience: There are so many videos to choose from and content producers want their videos to stand out among the rest. What better way to do that than to enhance the user experience? By including an option for audio description with your video, viewers are afforded a more flexible viewing experience. Many viewers enjoy multitasking while simultaneously listening to the audio of the video. For example, if someone is cooking while watching a show, they can keep their eyes on their meal without missing a single detail. Additionally, for blind and low vision viewers, their experience is enhanced tenfold when they can understand both the auditory and visual information. 

read the ultimate guide to audio description

What Are Some Common Challenges for Online Video?

Staying Within Budget: Content creators spend a great deal of their budget producing video. Therefore, it can be challenging to also afford audio description. Traditional audio description can range from $15-$30 per minute due to the use of human voice actors. With many hours of video, this cost can add up. If cost is an issue for your organization, no worries! By taking advantage of technology, you can bring down the cost of audio description without sacrificing quality. 

Scalability: Chances are, you probably have a massive library of videos. Organizations that produce online video need a solution that can handle a large amount of content. They need an audio description provider to keep up with the amount of video being produced. Although this can be challenging, the right provider will be able to handle your descriptions without sacrificing quality or breaking the bank. 

Workflow: Another challenge is finding a solution to simplify the workflow. One major issue is that many video platforms don’t support audio description. If they do, it typically needs to be added as a second video asset with the descriptions burned into the track audio. However, the problem with this method is that users won’t have the control to toggle the descriptions on or off or to adjust the volume. When choosing a vendor, it’s important to select one that can assist with publishing. 

What Vendor Features are Important for Online Video? 

Reliable Accessibility Partner: Content producers are looking for more than an audio description vendor. They need a solution that not only provides high-quality descriptions, but ensures their videos are accessible and comply with state and federal laws. With 3Play as your partner, you’ll be supported every step of the way with a dedicated account manager and a team of resourceful support reps. 

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Competitive Pricing: Because of 3Play’s use of technology, we’re able to minimize the cost of audio description – making it the most competitive price on the market. We understand that cost is one of the most important deciding factors when choosing a service. That’s why we offer a combination of both humans and technology in the description process. By leveraging technology, we’re able to bring the cost down and make the process of writing and time coding descriptions easier and faster. 

Audio Description Plugin: No more having to worry if a video platform supports audio description. 3Play’s Audio Description Plugin allows publishers to add audio description to videos without having to republish audio or video files. With this plugin, your viewers have the ability to toggle the audio description on or off and adjust the volume of the description, which is separate from the volume of the original audio track. Our plugin is compatible with most video players and LMS platforms. This will help simplify your workflow if you produce a ton of content. 

Customize Descriptions: We’re all about quality at 3Play. Our descriptions follow the DCMP guidelines to ensure accuracy and consistency. In the event that you want to make some minor tweaks to your descriptions, you can easily go back in the Account System and edit, add or remove descriptions. With our intuitive interface, editing descriptions is as easy as pie! Additionally, you can choose the type of synthesized speech you want to dictate the descriptions. Our editors use phonetic transcription codes to ensure the synthesized speech pronounces words in your file correctly.   

Flexible Turnaround Options: We offer three turnaround options to accommodate your needs. Our standard turnaround is five business day for audio description, however, if you need it sooner, we offer expedited, 2 business days, and rush, 1 business day turnaround options as well. 


Ready to make your online videos accessible? 🎥

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