Audio Description (AD), the "narration" of key visual aspects of
a movie, video, or live performance, is primarily for people who are
blind. But it turns out that AD can be very helpful to sighted
people, too. Here are some situations where sighted people benefit.
The term "video" below refers to all types of videos: movies,
TV shows, streaming videos, etc.
- People with certain learning disabilities benefit from the additional
verbalization of visual events. Autism and dyslexia are two
- People with certain medical conditions can benefit. Here
is what one person wrote us:
I get migraines and get photosensitivity
for prolonged periods, so being able to find Netflix shows to listen
to while I'm in complete darkness is a game changer.
- People who are driving vehicles can listen to the audio of a
video and have the key visual aspects audibly described. Netflix
an audio-only option for its programming, at least for Android
- A person can leave a room temporarily or be in another room
during a video and still understand what is going on.
- Chores or hobbies can be done in a room without a TV (ironing,
woodworking, etc.) while "watching" a video.
- A person whose first language isn't English will get exposed
to more English usage; and for that matter, anyone
learning English can benefit by more exposure to the language!
- Just like captioning can help when what was said is unclear,
audio description can help with visuals that are unclear.
The describer gets to view everything up close!
- The audio description offers a good reminder of character names
for those of us who have trouble remembering them!
- As a new listener to a series where people who are very familiar
with names of people, objects, or things like "alien races" have
no problem following, you get help because the audio describer is
free to reference these things based on accepted past knowledge
of their names. For instance, since Disney+'s The Mandalorian
is based on Star Wars history, the describer can (and does)
name weapons, vehicles, and aliens freely, greatly helping a new
viewer understand what they are seeing.
If you have never listened to audio description, you may find it
a bit intrusive at first as a sighted person, but after awhile you get
completely used to it and really appreciate it. Please visit other
pages on this website (www.acb.org/adp) to learn more, including
Samples of Audio Description and
pointers to thousands of described titles.
(Posted Apr 20, 2021)