>> Everybody, welcome to the 2019 DOI Section 508 Outreach Event. For those of you that are just joining us, my name is Sid Sharma. I’m the DOI Section 509 program manager. This event is hosted by the DOI Offices of the Chief Information Officer, and we’re very glad that you can participate in this year’s event. So let’s go ahead and proceed to our next presentation, which is Effectively Audio Describing Video Content. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Chris Delano, who serves as the audio description coordinator for the Georgia Institute of Technology Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation. Welcome, Chris.
>> Hi, thank you all for coming out to my presentation. I really appreciate it. I am going to talk about audio description today. And my first question I always ask is, how many of you have heard the term audio description before? How many of you have used audio description? How many of you use it in your daily life? So very, very few of you. And that’s understandable. It’s actually relatively new. But first, I want to start talking about myself, because of course, I’m going to talk about myself [LAUGHS]. My name is Christopher Delano. I am the Audio Description Coordinator. I’m an audio description specialist with the Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation. I have a degree in Theater Arts and English from Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, which sounds really weird because I work at Georgia Tech. I understand. My background is in writing and criticism of dramatic and poetic literature. I’ve been published in the area of literary art, which seems very weird at Georgia Institute of Technology that that’s what they hired me for. I served a number of years in a student support position at Columbus State University before I joined CIDI. I have a passion for providing necessary accommodations to all students. We mostly serve higher education students. And I have channeled that passion into the work I do today. My description team, we’ve attended trainings with the Audio Description Project, with the Lead Conference. We’ve trained with Joel Snyder, who I believe was here last year talking about audio description. We have between us several, several years of experience with just the trainings of audio description, let alone the actual practice of audio description. So I work on a team, and our team actually just does video media accessibility. A little bit about CIDI is that we focus primarily on higher education. And because of that, we approach all of our accessibility needs with a sort of different frame of reference. Our goal is never to provide accessibility just to meet a standard or to check off a box or to tell someone that we’ve done it. What we do is we provide accessibility for people who need it in their daily life so that they can succeed. If a student is given captions that are incorrect, or they are given descriptions that are not effective, they will fail their class. They will not complete their degree program, and now we have failed them. So what we do is we make sure we do all of our accessibility from the point of view of a person desperately needs this access in order to succeed and live their life. So what we do in our team is we provide live remote captioning for classroom sessions, meetings, conferences and events such as commencement ceremonies. So we connect remotely with students or with individuals and we provide live captions to them. We also create accessible and high-quality captions for post-production video media. So if you go by my table outside, you’ll see an example of that where we have open captions added to videos. And so that serves our deaf and hard of hearing population. And we also provide our complete audio description services. So we do the initial researching of the video content, we write the scripts, we record the audio with human voice actors, we edit the audio ourselves, we attach the audio to the videos. It’s all done inhouse, and by doing that, we can have a very tight quality control. We can also reduce the prices so that we can make sure that people are getting the accessibility that they need. There is no reason why something shouldn’t be accessible, because we can provide it to them. We also prepare trainings and presentations like this one that I’m giving right here. So audio description, what is it? And this is a definition from the American Council of the Blind. I think this really encapsulates what audio description is. “Audio Description involves the accessibility of visual images of theater, television, movies, and other art forms for people who are blind, have low vision, or who are otherwise visually impaired.” I always like to amend this and say audio description is for anyone who needs that access regardless of what their disability may be. “Audio description is commentary and narration which guides the listener through the presentation with concise, objective descriptions.” I believe that audio description is for everyone. It’s not just for people who have a vision-related disability. I use audio description in my daily life. I watch television and movies with audio description whenever I can. It really helps you see and understand what’s happening in the films that you’re watching. If any of you have watched Game of Thrones recently, you know that that show was very dark and not just in content matter, but someone has no idea how to turn the lights on in that world.
>> Audio description allows you to have access to it even if you can’t see what’s going on. And so here I have a very quick - we did not produce this, but this is a wonderful example of what audio description is in the mainstream, and it’s cute, so I always like to share it. Sadly, this is not captioned because we did not produce it. But if we did produce it, it would be captioned.
>> From the creators of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, Disney. A carrot-nosed [inaudible] snowman shuffles up to a purple flower peeping out of deep snow.
>> Oh, hello!
>> He takes a deep sniff.
>> [SIGHS], [SNEEZES]
>> His nose lands on a frozen pond. A reindeer looks up and pants like a dog.
>> Seeing the reindeer slip on the ice, the snowman smiles and moves towards him. Though, actually, he’s running in one spot. The reindeer falls on his chin. The snowman using his arm as a crutch. The reindeer paddles his front legs. Head over heels, the snowman crawls on the ice. The reindeer does the breaststroke. The snowman rolls his body but flips onto his back. The reindeer’s tongue sticks to the ice.
>> The snowman hurls his head. Twig arm and reindeer lips target the carrot.
>> The carrot flies off and lands in soft snow.
>> The reindeer goes after it with the snowman and his body parts hanging on his tail. The snowman puts himself back together again and glumly contemplates his nose less state. The reindeer jams the carrot back in place and pants like a proud puppy.
>> The snowman pats him with a stick for an arm, then goes to sneeze. He grabs his nose with both hands. His head shoots off.
>> Frozen, coming this winter in 3D.
>> So the reason I like to share that trailer specifically is one, everyone knows what Frozen is because we couldn’t escape it for a very long time. And now there’s a Frozen 2, so we also won’t be able to escape that for a very long time. But on top of that, the description in that video is a perfect show of what description should be. The describer doesn’t give information that a sighted person wouldn’t quite get. They give information that is relevant to what’s going on. And most importantly, they give information that allows the viewer who may be blind or have low vision experience it in the same way that a sighted individual would. They don’t give anything away. They don’t announce anything before it happens. They don’t announce anything after it happens. They allow the individual to experience it just like anyone else would. And so that’s sort of the goal of audio description, is to make it so that every person who’s experiencing that media experiences it in the same way. Also, if you are a sighted person and you’re watching that with audio description, it’s arguable even funnier, because she really does a great job of describing the jokes. And so that’s another example of how having the audio description can enhance the viewing experience even if you aren’t blind or have low vision. So moving on from that, just a little quick history of audio description. I just like to cover this because it’s really interesting to see. The most important thing here is that in 1974 is when Gregory Frazier developed the concept of audio description. So that’s only been about 45 years that really people have been talking about this in an official named capacity. But I promise you that audio description has existed for all of time. As long as there have been people who were blind, there’s been someone standing next to them telling them what’s going on. Audio description sort of developed and began in that same way. The original audio describers were people who were sitting next to someone in a theater whispering in their ear telling them what was happening on stage. From there, it moved on to the Metropolitan Washington Ear which hosted a simulcast of audio description for the American Playhouse on the radio. So they sort of described what was going on on the stage while the stage actors were still talking. WGBH in 1987 were the first people to produce prerecorded audio description for these American Playhouse Productions and broadcast them using the secondary audio program on your television. So if you’ve ever hit the SAP button on accident and suddenly people are talking about what’s happening on screen, that’s audio description. A lot of people’s first experience is when they accidentally turn it on. And in 1992, WGBH took the lead on audio description for first-run films nationwide. So that’s 1992. I think everyone in this room was probably alive when this started happening, so that’s how recent it is where you could go to a movie theater and see a first-run, a big blockbuster film with audio description. Up until that point, you had to wait until someone made it for you and you could watch it a month later, two months later maybe if you were lucky. So that’s only 1992. And 1998, as we all know, the Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act was updated and that went through, and that was the greatest thing that happened to audio description, because they finally said, hey, this is required. You have to have audio description on video media now to make it accessible. So in 2008, the Described and Caption Media Program published its Description Key Guidelines for captioning. The Described and Caption Media Program was developed out of the Department of Education, and they are a wonderful resource for anything for video accessibility. The only thing about the DCMP, which is Described and Caption Media Program, is that they focus largely on grade school education. So if you are interested in learning about audio description for your workplace or for training videos or anything like that, they don’t really cater to that. They cater more towards younger audiences, younger generation people. But their description key is very useful if you’re thinking about audio description and learning about what they suggest. And then 2017, the Section 508 refresh required specifically WCAG 2.0 Level AA adherence, which includes audio description under 1.2.5 under video media accessibility. There’s a lot of numbers and levels to that. But essentially what that says is that you have to meet level AA compliance of WCAB 2.0 guidelines for audio description for it to be considered accessible by Section 508 standards, to be compliant. I always tell people, AA is not enough. Going to Level AA compliance does not produce a video that is equitable viewing experience for a person who needs it. It only produces something that checks that box that says that you have made it accessible. If you want to make your video actually accessible, you really need to go with Level AAA compliance. I know for a fact that policies usually dictate that you go above and beyond Level AA. And I think that’s correct. I would really love for them to just say, do Level AAA. That’s where you want to be. So what is educational audio description? And this is what most people are going to be interested in. This is sort of something that we’ve worked on a lot at CIDI, just sort of create our own style, our own guide, and our own training materials to differentiate what audio description is for educational purposes. And that can mean anything from classroom setting, from a training program, from just informing other people about information. Anything that you would look at and go, this is for an educational purpose rather than an entertainment purpose, which is what I consider the other side of audio description. So educational audio description - the things that you have to do with that is you consider the educational goal of the video and media that you’re making accessible, and you use that as a guiding factor in choosing description. So that would mean, for example, that the same video can be shown in several classes with different goals in each of those classes. It can be shown for several purposes with different goals for each of those situations. You have to identify the goal for why that video exists. So if you’re making a training video, if you’re making a presentation video, if you’re making a video to teach people about a program that you’re working on or a new offering in your office or a new offering that you’re sending out to the world, you’re going to have a different purpose for that video each time you show it, but you can have the same video multiple times. For educational audio description, you always want to prioritize information over aesthetics. So that means, for example, time is limited, so educational elements should be described before entertaining or artistic elements. I know I just showed you that wonderful clip from Frozen, which I would consider entertainment audio description. It’s made to make you laugh, enjoy the content. If it was being done for an educational purpose, maybe for a history of talking snowmen, which don’t exist - but if it was, it would focus on different aspects of the video. It wouldn’t just describe him what he’s doing in his actions. It might describe his body more clearly. It might describe how he moves, how he talks, and things like that. Because it’s more focused on the education of him rather than the entertainment value of watching him struggle for his carrot nose. So that’s sort of the idea of educational audio description, is you focus on the educational content and what needs to be achieved from it before you do the aesthetic. You also have to exclude the unnecessary and confusing descriptions, because information overload and description fatigue can ruin an experience of watching something. So for example, if you bring up a chart or a graph in your presentation, and that chart or graph shows every bit of data from 1998 until 2018 about a project that you’ve been working on for 20 years, and you can encapsulate everything on that piece of data right there, that’s great. If you read every piece of data that was there, that would be 20 years’ worth of information you’re trying to give someone in your description, and that’s just too much. So you instead would want to hit, what are the highs, the lows? What is the information that someone needs to take away from this right now? And then provide that to them at a later date for them to explore on their own. And then you also want to trust the listener’s ability to comprehend the material. And this is sort of one of the biggest things that I see a lot of people make a mistake about in audio description when they first start writing it, is that they don’t trust the person who’s going to be experiencing it. So the big rule there is you do not condescend, you do not patronize, and you do not talk down about the material. Because the person who is watching it is smart enough, capable enough, and they understand what’s happening enough to gather that information on their own. You don’t have to tell someone - for example, a lot of people will start describing something and they’ll say, someone looks angry. What does look angry mean? You instead could describe the person’s facial expressions, the person’s body language, the person’s way that they’re holding themselves. And then that person can figure out on their own that that person’s angry. You don’t have to tell them that. That’s one of the biggest mistakes people make is because they want a shortcut and they want to just tell someone what’s happening rather than letting someone make their own decisions about it. So if you are doing a graph or a chart or some sort of presentation that way, you may not tell someone, wow, the numbers look great. You may tell people, the numbers start at this level, they increased by this much after 10 years, and increased again by this much after another 10 years. Let the person infer on their own what they’re saying, because the sighted individuals who are experiencing it, they’re also inferring on their own what they’re seeing. So let everyone have that same experience. How do you know that you need AD for something, audio description? This is a big question that comes up a lot. A lot of people assume that every video has to have audio description no matter what. That’s not necessarily true, because you may have already added it without even realizing it. So sort of the important things I always tell people, the obvious thing that you need to think about is, is your visual information presented without spoken description? That seems like, of course, duh. That’s what audio description is for. So some of those things that you might consider are the title images, charts, graphs, et cetera, things like that. Any movements or actions that affect or influence the scene - so if you’re doing a training video and you’re training people how to use a new piece of equipment or you’re training people how to use a new kind of software that you’ve got, someone could be moving something or doing something with their body, or physically interacting with what you’re talking about. And if you don’t describe what they’re doing, you just take for granted that people know what they’re doing. Then they’re going to miss some of that information, and it could be relevant to what you’re trying to show someone. And of course, names and titles. This is a big one that a lot of people skip when they’re doing description or when they’re making videos. You can have the President of The United States pop up and start talking. If you don’t announce who that is or you don’t say who that is - if the person doesn’t recognize the voice, the president no longer has any authority in that video because they’re just another voice. So you do want to make sure that you introduce people, you use names, you use titles so that people actually know who’s talking even if they can’t see them. And also, sometimes you may assume someone is very famous and popular, and then you show that video to someone else, and they have no clue who it is. So it’s always good to do that. That’s one of the very first things I usually have to add to videos when I’m adding audio description. And then also, less obvious things that you may not think about. If you have any visual information that enhances the information that’s presented without any spoken description of it. So that could be things like a b roll footage. So if you’re doing, for example, a welcome to our new park marketing video if you’re in the park service, and you are really excited about this new park, this new opportunity for people to go check out this new monument, this new exhibit, and you just show a lot of footage of that exhibit and you show a lot of people interacting with it, and you show a lot of people having an awesome great time in that location and you don’t describe what’s happening and you don’t describe what they’re doing, you’ve just lost all of that impact of your video, and now the person who is listening to it is just going to be like, okay, there’s some cool background music and some people laughing. And why do I care? But if you actually take the next step and you describe what they’re doing and you describe some of those concepts and action, it can give the person a little bit more of a reinforcement to understand what’s happening and more interest in going to be a part of this. Also, this is more for if you are sort of entertainment producing or maybe you’re working on a series of - maybe you work for a historical society and you’re showing what it was like back then. Costuming or other physical characteristics that influence perceptions of those people - this can also include uniforms for park rangers, for any sort of person who is in uniform. And then also any sort of cultural features that actually are applicable to the video. It’s important that they be applicable to the video, because you don’t need to describe every person’s appearance unless it is actually relevant to what’s being shown. Most of the time it’s not, but sometimes it is. I’ve worked on projects, for example, we had a student who we were helping serve who was taken a class on West African cultures. And so we described everything, every one of those videos that they were showing was wearing, everything everywhere that their hair was done, everything that they used. We used the proper names for the musical instruments that they played in those videos. Because we knew that that was important to the video. If the student was not taking a class on West African culture and it was just a fun video and it was set in the modern day and people were just wearing black tee shirts and black slacks and playing instruments, I may not describe what they’re wearing, because it’s not really relevant. But because of that situation, it was. This can also extend to park rangers. We did a series of videos for the National Park Service a few years back, and they made sure that, hey, describe what they’re wearing. Describe the logo that’s on their shirts. Describe what a park ranger looks like. So someone who may have some vision loss but may have some vision is watching the video. They’re hearing the description, and then they go to the park and they’re like, that person looks like a park ranger because I heard that description. So they know what to expect. Generally, when I have a piece of media in front of me, a video in front of me, and I’m trying to decide how I need to describe it or what needs to be described, I do two different tests. I call them tests, but they’re really just I watch the video three different times and I watch it with these two considerations. First, I watch the video in total. I just sit down and I watch it and I experience it and I sort of get what I’m supposed to get from it. And then I watch it again with closed eyes. What I really do is I just minimize the video and I only listen to the audio. And then I take notes of things - I’m going to read this directly from my thing. I make notes about what elements of the video were hard to understand without the visual reinforcement. And if I find that there are audio elements that confuse me without the visual reinforcement, I make a note of it because I know that that video is going to need the description for that element. So for example, if you are just listening to the audio of a video and then randomly you start hearing these wild animal noises and then it goes away, you’re probably going to want to go watch the video, see what was making those noises, and make sure you describe them. Because if you’re not a sighted individual and you’re watching a video and you start hearing birds chirping and insects buzzing and a bear growling, you’re going to want to know what’s going on in that video. So that’s just sort of one of the easy ways to do it. And the next thing I do is I actually watch the video with the audio off. I make notes about what are interesting and engaging visual elements, and then I watch the video for the last time. I look at it and see if the most interesting visual elements have some description or explanation. And if they don’t, I know that I’m going to have to add some. Because if something is very visually interesting to you, even if it is not necessarily part of the educational content or part of the message that you’re sending out, but it’s something that really grips you and you experience that on a really great level, you want to share that experience with everyone, and you want to make sure that that part is described. So a lot of times, it can be like this sweeping vista that you show at the beginning of every video that shows a beautiful mountain and the lake and some trees, and it’s just this gorgeous look at the world, and you’re like, hey, that’s really good, and I want to share that with everyone. That needs to be described even if your video is just how to access our new website. If you’re showing that, people want to know about it. So those are sort of those two initial tests that I run to see what needs to be described and what necessarily may not have added description. So what I’ve been talking about so far is what we do as we do post-production audio description. And so what that means is we have a video that’s already been made. Maybe this is something that in your experience might be archived somewhere for you. It might be something that you made four or five years ago before you thought about Section 508 compliance and you still want to share that video. Here are some considerations about what goes into making a post-production audio description. The first thing is there’s a lot of time that has to go into it. Post-production audio description is going to take time to create. Anywhere from a week to two months depending on the video media of the length and the complexity of it, and you have to add that sort of into your timeline. So if you want to have a video go live next week that you made earlier and you didn’t consider audio description when you were making it, you need to add time to that, because it’s going to take more than a week, usually, to have audio description added, real high-quality audio description. There’s also costs that go into post-production audio description. You’re going to have to pay someone to take your video, even if it’s an internal staff member, and create audio description to go with it. And cost, as we know, budgets are always tight no matter how nice they look. You always don’t want to spend more money than you have to. So that’s a big consideration. Another consideration is the voice. Some audio description creators will use a synthesized speech while others will use human voice actors. So if you go out there into the world and you’re trying to find someone to do your audio description, or maybe you’re making it inhouse, you might think, oh, I’ll just put this into a text to speech program and it’ll spit out someone reading what I’ve wrote for the audio description and I can just have that with the video. Not everyone likes that. It’s really up to the end user. Of course, synthesized speech like that is cheaper, because you’re not actually paying a human being to talk. But a lot of people in our experience, especially for these educational purposes, they really do like having a human voice so that they can - it’s easier to process and understand. But of course, it depends on person by person. I usually just tell people, get a human voice if you can. If you absolutely cannot, there are lots of options out there for speech to text to read whatever script you write for your audio description. And then of course, most importantly is the delivery and how you’re going to deliver that. So WCAG 2.0 guidelines tell you that you only need either a separate text time to track or a separate audio track that you have alongside the video that someone can access on their own. I’m not a big fan of those, because then you’re adding another layer of - the person had to know that they’re there, and they have to know to access them, and they have to have the software to access that. And that doesn’t hit every population. What I always recommend is that you make a separate video with a description audio track added onto it. So that would be extended or unextended description. Extended description is where you can actually pause. When you’re making the video, you freezeframe the video, you add the description into that freezeframe, and then you resume playing the video. So that allows you to write longer description, more accurate description, more inclusive description. But what it doesn’t do is it doesn’t allow the video to be the same length as the original one. So if you have a five-minute video without description, it could be five and a half or six minutes with description. So that does create sort of a difference there in the different populations, but it really does create better access for that group of people who need it. Unextended description is just regular audio description. It was the Frozen trailer we watched earlier where they’re just talking over the length of the trailer. That’s very difficult to do, because with videos you’re often talking all the way through it. And so if someone is already talking, you can’t add description on top of that, because then you will have two people talking at the same time, and that’s not really understandable.
>> That’s what I do. Sometimes I do that.
>> How do you...
>> Freezeframe it and then describe.
>> I make videos.
>> That is what I do. I also do the voicing for a lot of our videos. If you ever get a video from us, it will usually be my voice [LAUGHS]. But yeah, what we do is we will actually pause the video, we’ll take the video file that we’re editing, we’ll go in, we’ll go through our video editor, we’ll cut the video, we’ll pause the video, we’ll add the description track, and we’ll make sure that it flows. And we only do it when we have to, which is why sometimes a five-minute video only becomes five and a half minutes or so. But sometimes we have to add a lot of description to it because the whole video is people talking.
>> Yes. So there’s a lot of different ways to do it. If you have any questions about that, you can talk to me afterwards.
>> I will be here all day. So those are the post-production considerations. But there’s a couple of different ways to add audio description to your video. Of course, there’s the as-needed post-production, which I just talked about where you’re adding audio description to videos only when the need has been brought to your attention. So you had someone who came to you and said, I need access to this video, but I am blind or I have a vision-related disability, and I need you to audio describe it. That gives the access to the person. You’re definitely giving access to someone that way because you know they need it. But what it does is it can cause delays in access to that video by the client. So if someone comes to you and tells you today that they need audio description on the video that you released last week, you now have to build in another week, another month or so for that person to get access to that audio description. So that’s not necessarily a great way to approach access, because now the person is a week or so behind everyone else. And also, you may not have budgeted for that. When you were making your budget for this video creation, maybe you budgeted for someone to make the video, someone to act in the video, someone to do the voice for the video, and you’ve done all of that work, and now someone comes and tells you they need audio description. You go, well, I spent all the money. You still have to add it. It’s part of compliance, so you have to pay for it. Yes.
>> One question that comes up in government settings [inaudible]. One thing that we often suggest to people is that - sorry. In the government context, if you’re doing a video that’s like talking heads, one of the things - so there’s minimal images. One of the things we suggest to the speakers is that they incorporate video description into their comments so that we don’t have to go back and try to add stuff in.
>> Or if we are going to have a lot of images, to make sure that people explain it. They don’t sit there and go, well, as you can see here looking at this, compared to over there...
>> You are about one slide ahead of me right now. I am going to address that. As for talking head videos, those would be ones that you really don’t have to add description to. If it’s just people talking throughout the whole thing and they say their names before they talk, you’re golden. That video could just be an audio file. You could just share it as an audio file for all that matters. There doesn’t needed to be added description to something that has nothing to describe. Another way to approach it is planned post-production. So like you said, when you’re talking to people before they do this, you explain to them, hey, make sure you describe things. This would be adding the audio description to your video before they’re released but after they’re made. I’m going to get to the planning ahead for the next slide. But this is if you’ve made the video and you know that you want to add audio description to it like a professional voice person like me or the wonderful person behind you over there. Yes. If you want one of us to describe it, you can have us do that before you release the video. That way, it creates accessible content for any future client. You don’t have someone who tells you they need it accessible. You’re just making it accessible ahead of time, and it also means that you can account for that cost when you’re doing the budgeting. So you know, hey, we’re going to make this video, and we also need to budget for X amount of dollars to get the audio description done on the video after we’ve made it. The only issue there is that the need may never arise for it. You may never have a client who comes to you and says, I need this video audio described, and you’ve spent the money on it to make it audio described. What you’re doing there is you are meeting the compliance standards. You’re following policy, you’re being a good person, and that’s great. A lot of people don’t like to do that because they don’t have the money to always follow the compliance standards. So this is something we run into a lot where they just sort of wait for someone to request it audio described. I don’t like that. That’s not a good idea. That’s a bad idea. Don’t do that. It’s a very bad idea. But that’s a thing you have to contend with when you’re making your budget is you have to go, hey, we’re budgeting for audio description. Note, that video may never be clicked on. No one may ever watch that described version of your video. I promise you if there’s a described version out there, it will be watched. But it may never be, so you have to sort of contend with that and make sure that you explain to whoever’s signing off on that budget, we have to have the audio description money even though we don’t know we need it. We have to have it. So a little bit more on post-production AD, just I’ve sort of covered this already a little bit. You can have your own inhouse team, which is a dedicated team at your organization trained on proper description practices and equipped with the skills to record and edit descriptions. So that would be what we do inhouse at our place, our friendly person in the back there who has raised their hand multiple times now because I keep referencing them. They are an inhouse team, and that’s always great. That’s great to have. There are costs to that of course, but that will make things so much smoother in your life. You can also contract with a vendor or have a contract vendor. So this is a service provider who agrees to complete your audio description, usually offering a very fast turnaround and a reduced price in exchange for a commitment to deliver a large number of videos. In my experience, doing a lot of looking at the market right now, a lot of people are like that. They’ll tell you that they can do your video media for audio description relatively cheap. They’ll tell you they’ll do it for 6 or $7 a minute for your video if you promise them that you’re giving them 500 minutes worth of video ahead of time. And that is always sort of iffy, because you may not have that much video, and then you also don’t know what you’re necessarily going to get out of them because you’ve already signed up to pay them for 500 minutes of video, and now you get the first one back and you’re like, wow, this is not good. But you’ve already agreed to that. So that’s sort of questionable. You usually want to go find someone who you know is highly regarded, who you have a lot of faith in their ability, because contracts are scary and money is tight. But don’t find yourself in a hole with a partner who you do not want to be with, you know? And then there’s also CIDI. I’m going to just let you know that we are membership based. We just do things a la carte. There’s a few people like that out there who do that who you can just go to them and say, I’ve got a five-minute video, I need audio description. Will you do those five minutes for me? A lot of those people are often private contractors. They’re not working with an organization. A lot of them are just a person who does it as their job, just taking any sort of work that comes their way. Those are also very great because that means that you’re going to get that one person, one job. You’re not going to have to commit to a whole bunch of money. You’re just going to commit to that one project. It is usually a little more expensive than these contract vendors who are willing to do hundreds and hundreds of minutes for you. But it does sort of reduce that fear of getting something back from someone you’ve signed a contract with that you don’t want to work with anymore. So pre-production audio description. This is what the gentleman had a question about before. These are things that you do before you have to make the video. Let me check my time. Okay, I’m going to talk really fast. So for pre-production audio description, you do that during the conception or the concepting and creation of the video. So what you’re doing is you’re working with a script writer who is making that video or the people who are producing that video, and you make sure that they insert the audio description into the narrative, into the script, into the conversation. So that would be someone introducing themselves when they start talking, and someone when they show something. Instead of saying, you can see here, the numbers show that we did great least quarter - what that really would mean is, hey, describe what the numbers are and talk about the numbers. Let the people come to that description. You can plan for what visual elements need to be shown versus what you can remove to sort of reduce that confusion. I’ve worked with a lot of videos for governmental nonprofits that want to show all of their clients throughout the whole video doing all these happy lifestyle things that they’re doing because this nonprofit has made their life so much better. And it’s true that it has and those are great video clips. But if I have to describe them, it can get very confusing, because you’re talking about your program, and then I cut in to describe about a baby eating a banana. You know, it’s great. It’s cute. Everyone loves babies when they eat bananas. It’s adorable. But it’s not really relevant and can be kind of confusing. But you wouldn’t want to cut that from the description because other people are watching it and seeing that. So maybe you can consider, what are the important visual elements that really need to be shown, and give some time for them to be in there and describe what’s happening and what’s going on. You can do that during the production of the video. So let’s say you’ve already started work on the video. You didn’t plan for it. After you’ve made all the filming and you’ve had the people talk, you can allow for the text and graphics to remain on screen for a longer period of time so that you know when you add the description later, you don’t have to do what we do and freezeframe and cut. You can have someone very quickly read it and just add that voice line over it before you release it. You can give space between speakers so there’s time for description. That’s a big thing I always tell people. When you’re creating these videos, give a moment between everyone who talks. Have a moment of silence. Let a person sort of process what they heard, but also give the describer a chance to introduce the next person, so when you add on your own voice track afterwards. And you want to avoid loud background music on videos. I don’t think I always have to tell that, but sometimes I see a lot of people who think that that beautiful piano concerto or that string quartet music that they found online that’s public domain is awesome, and they want to play it as loud as they can in their video. Try describing over it. It’s impossible, and it makes it difficult for everyone to sort of understand what’s going on. So how to work the audio description into your script. And so this works for when you’re making a video or when you’re doing a presentation like this one. When you are creating a script for a video, or even when you’re giving a presentation without a script, do not consider any visual element to be a given. You will have viewers, clients, audience members and more who cannot or do not see the visual information. If a visual element is present, describe it with these considerations. The big takeaway there is, don’t take anything for granted. You don’t know who is interacting with your media. If you are making it public, if you are putting it online, if you are sharing it with a large group of people, you do not know what disabilities they may or may not have. So don’t take anything for granted. You want to consider content. So for charts and graphs, you want to describe trends and important figures, but you want to avoid that overload like we described earlier. You don’t want to necessarily say it trended upwards. You might want to say, we started at this amount, we hit this amount and then that amount, but you don’t want to describe every little data point along the way. You want to describe the context of things, so where it’s located. If it’s moving, how and where it’s moving, so if you do have a graphic that is showing something that is changing over time, you want to describe how it’s changing over time. You don’t want to just say, we have a frog, but the frog is leaping across the screen. You want to mention that it’s leaping across the screen. And so then also aesthetics. This is sort of the last thing to consider when you’re doing description and presenting things. I have not described the fact that I have yellow text on a black background for my titles or that my rest of my presentation is black text on white background. It’s irrelevant. It’s not important. But it could be important if I’m presenting on text accessibility and contrast in glare. If I was doing that, I might mention those things. By the way, yellow on black is a lot better than black on white for glare purposes. I don't know how much you do that work, but it’s great. So other ways that you can make your content audio described - I’ve kind of mentioned this before. Make sure everyone introduces themselves, make sure you introduce your speakers. You always want to read the full text that you are displaying. If you’ve noticed, I’ve read almost every single word that’s appeared on my presentation because I don't know who in here can actually see my presentation. But also, I’ve made my presentation in such a way - as you can see here, if the text you’re displaying is too much to read, consider making cuts. My presentation is designed so that you can read it at a later date and still have the same experience as if you were in this room watching me right now. So that is just something to consider when you’re making a presentation or you’re presenting on something. You don’t want to just put one word up there and then talk forever about that word and then move on. And you also don’t want to put a giant wall of text up there and read absolutely none of it and then move on. Those are confusing, they don’t give good access. It’s just a general presenting tip. But it really does fold into accessibility. And you also just want to avoid clip art. The more like clip art, funny little pictures you add that don’t really have any purpose for the presentation or to your video, the more you have to describe of your presentation and video. But then also, those can be kind of confusing and distracting. I’ve found that I just don’t include clip art unless it’s like an actual thing I’m going to talk about in my presentations. It’s not necessary, and it does cause a lot of confusions. So that’s just one big thing I always tell people. Just avoid it. So how to host your audio description. And this is sort of the big point here. When you’ve made your video, you’ve audio described it, you’re ready to go. There are sort of two different ways that you’re going to host that video. You’re going to share that video with people. The first one is when you’re hosting online. So the WCAG Guidelines advise hosting a separate video with extended description so you can allow users to choose which version to view. That is the AAA guidance there. That is what they tell you you should do. It’s not just the checkmark box that’s AA guidance. Don’t do that. Do above and beyond. And then you can also host it on YouTube. A lot of people host on YouTube. We are going to watch another video on YouTube here in a second. We watched one earlier. It is very popular. If you’re doing that, you can actually host unlisted and private videos that are only accessible for people who have the link to that video. That’s a great way if you’re hosting a video on your website to just have a link down there that says, audio described version is available here. Got to the link. And then of course make sure your website is accessible. They can go to the YouTube link where you have the audio described version of the video, but that’s not going to show up on your public YouTube channel, necessarily, if you don’t want it to. I say just include it, because everyone should be able to see the audio described videos. But we work with a lot of people who don’t want that for any reason that may exist. So that’s an option. If you’re presenting in person - if you’re showing an audio described video in person, you’re presenting the described video to all audience members. It’s good access, especially if a described video contains captions. So I often tell people, don’t have a video that has both captions and descriptions, because that is going to be difficult. It’s going to be hard to follow. If you are a deaf or hard of hearing person and you’re watching the video and you don’t see anyone talking and you don’t see anything happening but captions are showing up to read something that you’re looking at, it can just get a little bit much. So we tell people, make two videos, make them separate. But if you’re presenting in person - which I am failing on this today because I did not make sure these videos were captioned. But our videos that we make that we show in public for audio description are audio described and captioned. So that way you’re hitting the multimodal experience for communication there. You’re hitting everything. You can also offer an audio recording of descriptions to play simultaneously with the video. This is like when you go to a movie theater or you go to a museum exhibit and you walk around and you press a button at the museum exhibit and it reads you the audio description on the device that they give you, or if you go to a movie theater, they give you cool headphones that you can put on that just play the description. I recommend you all do that. It’s really fun to hear Blockbuster movies being described. You can do that. You can even do that in a small setting like this one. It’s just much more difficult than just having a video with descriptions already added to it. So simplicity in audio description. This is one of the big things I have to tell everyone when I start training them in audio description is that famous Coco Chanel quote, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.” Everyone who writes audio description, the very first time they do it, they write way too much information. They go in depth on everything that they’re seeing right there in front of them. It’s not always needed. You don’t need to describe every little detail of everything you see in the video, because it will cause an overload. It will cause confusion, especially if you’re mentioning things that are completely irrelevant to what’s going on. It’s just not worth it to do that. So we’re going to practice really quick with this image that I really like. We have a few minutes here. If you can look at the image and sort of think how you would describe it. If anyone wants to share that, I have a second. If anyone wants to look at it and give a shot at how they would describe this image. I always start with images and then move to video clips. We’ve got a video clip coming up next that we’re going to try and describe a little bit of. But let’s start with this image. Does anyone have an attempt they want to share? Can you see the image okay? I think so. Mm-hmm?
>> I would probably describe it as an older man holding an airhorn is captioned as Jeff Foster, who is tired of birds.
>> All right, that is very good description. You hit pretty much everything, but I’m going to show you how I would describe this image. So this is sort of like alternate text like you would with a textbook, but with audio description considerations in there. I describe it as an older man holds an airhorn outside of a home. Text reads, “Jeff Foster: Tired of Birds.” The Weather Channel logo appears on the lower right. This way, you’re getting the information. You’re seeing the very first thing I see is the older man. He’s holding an airhorn. He’s outside of a home. So you know this is a personal experience he’s going through. And then on top of that, the Weather Channel logo is on the lower right, and you get the text. So now you have the full context. This is something that aired on the Weather Channel. This man’s name is Jeff Foster, and he is tired of birds. I didn’t tell you that he’s blowing the airhorn or he’s scaring the birds away with the airhorn. You can imply that if he’s holding an airhorn and he’s tired of birds, they might be related [LAUGHS]. So I like that. That image is a lot of fun to sort of practice with. So you did a really good job with that. Some people might describe that he is balding or that he is wearing a zip-up sweater or that he’s holding a white airhorn with a red horn. That’s not relevant information. It’s not helping paint the picture or give the information any better. You’re just adding a lot to it. Those are the things I would say to take off. So what I want to do now is I’m going to show 15 seconds of this clip. It is from a wonderful animated called Princess Mononoke. This film is amazing. It’s visually very stunning. But what I like about this clip is it shows action, and it gives people a chance to sort of practice with that understanding of context and movement when they’re doing audio description. This can be relevant if you are making a training video or a video that shows someone who is doing something to give them an understanding of how that action works. So let me go to that clip really quick. So we’re only going to watch about 15 seconds of this. I’m going to ask you to try giving me a short description like I just did. If I need to restart and show the 15 seconds again, just let me know.
>> Calm your fury, almighty lord, whatever you may be, god or demon, please leave us in peace!
>> So does anyone want to watch that 15 seconds again? All right, let me give another.
>> Calm your fury, almighty lord, whatever you may be, god or demon, please leave us in peace!
>> So that is what 15 seconds of that video looks like. Does anyone want to give me an example of how they might describe that 15 seconds? I know there’s a lot going on. I have someone in the back over there with their hand raised.
>> I would say a young man riding a deer is pursued by a monster. Then I’d shut up while he was talking. And then I’d say a village is seen in the distance.
>> Yeah, that is - that’s good. It gives someone the idea of understanding what’s happening. So let me show you how I would describe it. This is the description I would write for this scene. Ashitaka, carrying a bow, rides his galloping red elk through the forest. A monster crashes through the trees pursuing him. So for that description, here’s sort of the reasoning why I wrote it that way. I think you did a great job. Mentioning the town is useful. I’m supposed to stop the clip before it shows up, and I didn’t. But it’s there. So when I wrote this description, the things I considered, I wanted the names. If this is an educational purpose, giving the person’s name immediately is not a problem. Especially even if it’s a movie, the person is going to find out the person’s name very early. They may also never find out the person’s name until the very end when the credits roll and they go, oh, that guy’s name was Ashitaka the whole time? It may not show up, so giving the person the name isn’t going to ruin anything about the movie unless you watch the whole movie and you determine that the person’s name has to be a secret. So I just go ahead and give it. It gives that person the context. They know how to talk about the movie. They know the name of the character. I also considered the location. It’s happening in the forest for the most part. I consider some of the context. He’s going down a hill, he’s going towards the town like you mentioned. He’s on the back of a red elk. He’s going away from the monster. These are some of those prepositional phrases that you might have learned about in elementary school and then later on in life a little bit, those sort of movement phrases or the contextual phrases. Some of the details, that he’s carrying a bow. That’s important to know because he’s going to shoot that bow later. And you want to let the person know he’s carrying a bow before you say he shoots the bow so that the person doesn’t completely go, how? What? There’s a bow? It’s sort of that Chekhov’s gun style. If you’re going to introduce the gun, it’s going to be made useful later. If you never fired the bow, you may not mention it. And then also some descriptors I have thought about were quickly and closely. This is a lot of text here. I’m going to read through it very quickly. For my original text, I wrote, Ashitaka, carrying a bow, quickly rides down a hill in the forest on the back of a red elk away from a monster. That description is clear. It tells you what’s happening. But it’s also wordy and it’s long. It’s one very long sentence with a lot of prepositional phrases. So what I did is I identified some areas I could improve that sentence. It doesn’t convey the urgency of the scene, so I wanted to add a word that would convey that urgency. It doesn’t show really a lot of the spatial context, because it’s all cluttered right there together. It makes it kind of hard to follow what’s happening. And then also, there are too many thoughts in one sentence. So what I did is I split the description into two sentences. I used a more cleanly formulated description by cutting the adverb “quickly” instead of using a more vivid adjective in it, which was “galloping”. If something is galloping, it’s moving very quickly. You don’t have to say it’s quickly, because it’s inferred. I brought to bring more intensity into the scene. I also considered the spatial context of “down a hill” was unnecessary. It could be necessary, but it wasn’t really in this scene. There was just a hill. It didn’t really play into the story or into the scene that much. And then the second sentence gives the action and urgency by using such words as “crashes” and “pursuing” instead of just “away from”. He’s not going away from the monster. It’s not like a casual stroll where he just happens to be moving in the other direction. The monster is crashing through that forest and pursuing him. This isn’t just an, oh, we just happened to pass by each other situation. So those are just some writing tips for when you’re making those evocative descriptions to consider. Question?
>> How important or unimportant would it have been to describe what the monster looked like?
>> You don’t really get a good glimpse of the monster in that opening scene. You sort of see some stuff. But even as a sighted individual, you don’t really know what it looks like other than kind of weird. It’s a monster. So I would include more description when the monster becomes more in view and you can sort of see what it is. Because a sighted individual is probably going, what am I seeing? What’s happening? What’s going on, just as much as a non-sighted individual will when they hear the term monster and they hear the noises. But there are scenes later on that show the monster more clearly, and then you might want to describe the writhing mass of tentacles and the shape of it and things like that so that you can make sure that the person who’s experiencing the description gets the same moment of clarity of, oh my god, what is this thing? It’s the same thing even in more casual, relaxed description too. If someone who is sighted doesn’t really see it and doesn’t really know what it is until later, you don’t need to describe it until later. You let everyone come to the same realization at the same time.
>> Because I was going to say red-eyed monster.
>> You could use red-eyed monster.
>> I didn’t notice that the elk was red, but I noticed the red eyes. And to me, those were more important.
>> I used the term red elk because that is actually the name of the animal is red elk.
>> It’s not just any elk. But yeah, the monster had red eyes. That’s important. You can include that as well. I think I just didn’t consider it that important at the time, so I didn’t include it. So everyone’s going to do it differently. When I’m considering educational content for a video - so looking at this clip from an educational point of view, I might describe it differently if it’s being shown in these different contexts. It could be a Japanese history class focused on 1500s Japan, which is about when the movie is supposed to - it’s a fictional world, but it’s about taking place or the cultural elements are very close to that. I might consider describing it differently if it’s for an animation class. I might talk about different ways that the animation is achieved and some of the ways that they make the video look the way it did. I might describe different things if it’s a course on fashion in Japanese animation. I might talk about what he’s wearing. I might talk about what the people in the village are wearing in very clear terms and actually use the vocabulary that applies to what they’re wearing, because that’s what someone needs to get out of it is the fashion. And I might talk about it differently if it’s a history of animation class. So if this a class all about Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki who made the film, I’m going to talk about things that are very evocative of those creators. I’m going to make sure I include the elements that are well-known of their stylistic choices. So what would you describe differently in these contexts? I sort of just covered that. And how would you describe things differently to classes about Japanese history versus animation history? So that’s another thing. Historical elements are not always the same if it’s a different view of the history of that thing. So if you’re doing historical elements of, for example, this came up in the West African class. We’re talking about cultural things. We’re talking about the history of the culture of those people. We’re going to talk about the evolution of their instruments and their clothing and the things that happened among that culture. We’re not going to necessarily focus on the history of the world around them while that was happening. So I’m not going to talk about how in 1940s during World War 2, their fashioned changed to this. I’m going to talk about how their fashion changed in 1940. It’s kind of a weird way to put it, but it’s just omitting information that’s not relevant for that purpose. So we have a couple minutes for more questions. Does anyone have any further interests or questions? Yes? Let’s get a microphone to you really quick so we can...
>> Lots of thoughts rumbling through my brain as I think about hiring a contractor for the government to produce materials for us for say a public involvement program. And I’m just wondering, from the government side, is there a good example of content that you would put in the statement of work to get you to the right place for this type of content?
>> So what exactly do you mean? Examples of audio description of...
>> Well, I mean, probably that question would be better put to a government employee than to you perhaps.
>> I don't know a lot about how - and I’m sure Sid can talk a little bit about this. If he wants to take over and answer this question, I would be happy. Because this is important.
>> So when you’re preparing a statement of work, you should really reference the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards for audio description. That’s what we are required to conform to based on revised 508 standards. And Tim, please chime in if you want to add anything. Tim Creagan is here from the U.S. Access Board, so he can provide more information. But yeah, so that’s what I would do. And in the WCAG guidelines, there are some examples of effective audio description that you can link to as well in that statement of work, along with the requirements. And that’s what I would include in the statement of work. Was that...
>> Thank you, very good. Do you want to add to that?
>> Tim Creagan. Thank you, Sid. The other issue that we get a lot of questions about goes more to the foot of the subjective part. How much is too much, and what’s good audio description? And over time, we’ve also seen resources from Canada has - the Canadian TV Broadcast has put out some guidance on what’s considered good processes. LightHouse for the Blind has some good suggestions. They’re a little bit - it’s dated. I give you credit, because you’ve gone into a lot of softer interpretative issues that come up. When we were revising the standards, we really stayed away from trying to say anything about audio descriptions except that you should provide the capacity for it. We didn’t go into anything about what the substance of it should be, just for this very reason. One of the issues that came up was context was very important, obviously. So you could have an image that, depending on the context, it would matter greatly what it was. So let’s say you had an EKG chart. Okay, so if you’re the VA looking at that, are you coding that because this is an EKG chart of an individual who qualifies for a 30 percent disability rating? Or are you charting this because this is an example of what an electrocardiogram is? Or are you coding it because there’s so many data points? So with a lot of accessibility, when you’re focusing on providing information in alternative format, one of the questions you want to ask is, what exactly is the information you’re providing? One last thing I’ll point to is Federal Communications Commission is also looking at this issue. And one of the things that they had historically, they had originally passed some standards for audio description 10 years ago, which were then - National Foundation for the Blind took them to court and said, okay, you’ve exceeded your authority because the concern was at that time they were going into too many subjective statements about the audio description. What I’m saying is with audio description, the issue is context, what you’re trying to communicate, and how briefly you can do it, which is what makes it almost more of an art than a science.
>> I mentioned this a lot when I was talking about my bio. I have a degree in Theater Arts and Writing. Throughout all of my undergraduate career, I wrote. I wrote a lot of things. I studied writing. I studied how to write a sentence and craft a sentence. And that’s the reason why I’m in the work I’m in today. I am not a tech person. I don’t understand a lot of technology things and I really - I’m much better than I was several years ago, but I came at it from an artistic point of view so that I could sit with someone and go, hey, as someone who understands what students need to succeed and what people need to succeed because I’ve worked with students, even students with disabilities, students with any sort of accommodations that they needed when I was in college, but also from that writing point of view of going, what does someone need? How do we get that to them, and how can I channel my abilities into making it so that what I’m giving them is useful? And so that is one of the things with audio description is that you find a lot of people focus a lot on the technical aspects of, is there a way for you to deliver it? It has to have something there, but they don’t really talk about what is useful. And so that’s why you find a huge gap between various different groups that offer it. You have one person who will do audio description, and it will be entirely different from another group. They’ll both be audio description, but they may have varying levels of usefulness to you. It really is an art. It’s impossible to tell you objectively what good audio description is. I can just tell you best practices. There’s another question in the back there, and he has his own microphone.
>> Yes, this is my personal question, not from the field. Earlier you mentioned specifically about the president’s voice. Now, the last president who I couldn’t recognize by voice, being a fully sighted person, would probably be Jimmy Carter. And I don't know how common that is, but my question is, aren’t there some people whose voices are so famous and so distinctive that they can come on the radio and no one needs to be told who’s speaking, and wouldn’t the current president usually fall into that category?
>> So quick question. Follow up for you. Have you lived in the United States your entire life and been educated in the United States schools?
>> That might have a reason why you can recognize a president’s voice just by hearing it on the radio. If you’re producing audio description, you really want to just - you don’t want to make assumptions about the people who are experiencing it. If someone is coming from a different culture or a different country, a different education background, they may know who the president is. They may know his name. They may know things about him. They may have heard someone imitating his voice. But if you just have him talking, it may not sound like what they’re expecting, because they haven’t lived in that world with that person as their president for so long. So that’s why I say, even if it’s someone’s voice who you think everyone knows this voice - that’s why I use the president as an example. The presidents have had pretty recognizable voices for the last few presidents now. We can recognize them, but not everyone can. And you still want to include that just in case. Yeah, I think we’re out of time. But if there’s any questions, I’m here until 4:30. I have a table over across from the Federal Credit Union room thing, whatever that is. A bank.
>> Yes, so I’m over there if anyone has any follow up questions and wants to talk. I will be here until 4:30. I don’t want to go too overtime. Oh, last slide, my resources I used. These are my resources. You are going to get an electronic copy of this presentation as well. And these are all links that will lead you to some of the things I talked about earlier. Description Key, Listening is Learning is a wonderful website that talks about the usefulness of audio description. And then CIDI is our website where you can learn about more of what we do. But I’m not trying to sell you on our services. I actually would really like you to just do audio description on your own. And then the LEAD Conference and Training is really useful for if you want to learn more about audio description. Thank you. Bye.
>> Thanks so much.
Effectively audio Describing Video Content