How to Add Audio Description to YouTube Videos

May 12, 2022 BY ELISA LEWIS

Add Audio Description to YouTube Videos


More than 1 billion hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day.

71% of people with disabilities leave a website immediately if it’s not accessible.

You don’t have to be a mathematician to understand these stats and their implications. If you want your YouTube videos to reach their full potential, you need to make them accessible with captions and audio description.

But how?

Adding audio description to YouTube videos is simple – when you use the 3Play Plugin at least!

Most video players and platforms don’t support audio description like they support captions, including YouTube. The audio description embed feature of our 3Play Plugin allows you to easily add audio description to most videos without publishing an entirely new video. The 3Play Plugin is compatible with most video players, publishing platforms, and LMS systems.

If you want your content to reach the millions of people who are blind or have low vision, keep reading for pointers on how to add audio description to YouTube videos.

How to Add Audio Description to YouTube Videos

As much as Google and YouTube have made strides in accessibility by providing viewers the option to watch videos with captions, YouTube still doesn’t support audio description.

The two most common ways to add audio descriptions to videos are to create descriptions manually or use an audio description vendor.

Since YouTube doesn’t support audio description, the latter option is superior. Going the DIY route will be a far more labor- and time-intensive process; however, there are some workarounds for adding audio description to your YouTube videos, which we’ll discuss in this blog.

On the flip side, when you go through a professional audio description vendor like 3Play, not only can you add descriptions to YouTube videos, but you’re also guaranteed high-quality, accurate descriptions.

Our professional describers watch your video and utilize technology and human editing to create clear, accurate descriptions that follow the DCMP guidelines. The descriptions are placed using the existing timecodes from your caption file so that they don’t disrupt the viewer from the original audio track.


Get started with audio description ➡️


Outsourcing to 3Play Media

Step 1: Order Audio Description

Begin by logging into your 3Play Media account.

To order audio description, you must first order transcription.

Select Order Services at the top of the screen, and select Transcription & Captioning as your main service. Choose your preferred turnaround time, and click next to continue.

3Play Media account system order services page

Select Audio Description as an additional service. Choose your preferred service level and turnaround time, then click next.

3Play Media account system additional services page

Select the method you are going to use to upload your video. From Links is a great option for YouTube videos, especially those you don’t own. Copy and paste the video URL, click Add Files, then hit next.

Add Media window in the 3Play Media account system

Review and submit.

  • If you already have a transcribed file from a YouTube video in your account, navigate to the file for which you want audio description, click on the file name, choose Order More when the menu appears on the right of the screen, and choose Audio Description. Follow the prompts to place your order.
  • If you already have an audio description file from a YouTube video in your account, continue to Step 2.

Step 2: Publish Plugin

Once you have a completed Audio Description file from a YouTube video, click on the file you wante to publish. Select Publish from the top right window, then Publish Plugin. The plugin menu will open. Select Audio Description and any other features you want included in your plugin, and choose YouTube as your video player. You will see a preview on the left side of the menu window.

3Play Media account system publish with the plugin window

Step 3: Copy Embed Code

Copy the single line embed code provided, and paste it into the body of your HTML.

embed code URL

Your video will now appear with the YouTube audio description plugin underneath. You can toggle the audio description on or off and change the volume of the description separately from the volume of your original audio track. Try it out:

DIY Method

Choosing to create descriptions yourself will take ample time and effort. However, this may be a suitable option for your organization, depending on your workflow.

First, you’ll want to create an audio description transcript. The transcript is a text document that includes both the descriptions of the visual elements and the captions of the original audio.

The audio description transcript will allow blind and low-vision viewers to use their screen readers. Not only will they understand the original spoken audio, but they’ll also be able to get a picture of what’s being visually depicted in the video.

Although this option is better than not having audio description at all, it’s best to have the descriptions in the actual video because it improves the viewer experience. Blindness isn’t all or nothing. In fact, many blind people still have some vision, even if it may be a small percentage. The transcript wouldn’t allow viewers to watch the video and read it simultaneously.

However, you could use the transcript to record the descriptions for your video! When you have the timecodes of the captions, you’ll know precisely where the natural pauses between the dialogue are located. This will make recording the descriptions a breeze since you know exactly where they should go!

If you decide to go with just the transcript instead of recording the audio description, we recommend putting it in the description box below the video or link it to a separate URL.


Make your YouTube videos accessible! Get started today with audio description:

Unlock the power of Audio Description. Learn more.

This post was originally published on July 23, 2018, by Elisa Lewis and has since been updated for clarity, accuracy, and freshness.

3play media logo in blue

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