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Welcome to the Audio Description Project!

Here you will learn everything about Audio Description, from what is it, to samples, to who does it, to how and where it is available in various media.  You can also join our online discussion, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, and be notified of updates to this page by typing your email address in the box to the right and pressing the Submit button. 

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Featured Articles

Audio Description Training Institute: Feb 25-27

On February 25th, the ACB will sponsor its eleventh Audio Description Institute at the Crowne Plaza Old Town Alexandria (Virginia).  Follow the link for all the details and to sign up!

If the Triangle area of NC is more convenient, Arts Access will be providing audio describer training in Durham NC.  (This training not sponsored by the ACB.)  Read more about it on our Education page.  (Updated Jan 4)

New Versions of "The Visual Made Verbal"

"THE VISUAL MADE VERBAL: A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description" (published by the American Council of the Blind) is now available in Russian!  A pamphlet/digest of the book has also been published in Polish with a full translation on its way.  In mid-2017, Portuguese and Spanish translations will be published, and the audio book (in English, voiced by the author) will be available via the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  Available in print (in English) on Amazon, via the author's website, and in print and in text format from the American Council of the Blind Mini-Mall.  (Updated Jan 4)

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Tricia McCauley:  February 25, 1970-December 25, 2016
by Joel Snyder

Tricia McCauleyAudio description is woefully under-known as an assistive technology.  Some description producers and describers become known in our small field -- but the many talented individuals who voice the descriptions (particularly for television and film) are compensated for their work but rarely have a presence in the audio description field.

Indeed, many of you may know Tricia McCauley though you've never met her.  Based in Washington, DC, she was the pitch-perfect voice of dozens of audio described films, videos and museum tours.  Tragically, Tricia was murdered on Christmas Day in a car-jacking.  The news media have celebrated her loving kindness and her talent as an actress, yoga teacher and herbalist.  But with respect to audio description, Tricia had a clever, quick intellect -- those qualities combined with her skill as a voice artist to make her work as the voice of descriptions ideal.  She was a "star" to thousands of people who listened to her, primarily people who are blind or have low vision.  Those recordings live on -- like her soul and her bright light -- and will, I pray, allow us all to see more clearly.  (Posted Dec 29)

December 20th Deadline For Accessible User Interfaces

December 20 was the deadline for compliance with the FCC's order for manufacturers of video devices to offer accessible user interfaces to visually impaired customers.  Check out the FCC Fact Sheet: Television and Set-Top Box Controls, Menus, and Program Guides.  Comcast lead the way long ago, and now it's everyone else's turn to comply.  Preliminary feedback is positive for Apple TV, AT&T DirecTV Genie, Comcast X1, Samsung TV, TiVO Roamio, Roku, and Verizon FiOS TV cable box, though quality may vary.  Check our How Do I Receive Video Description section on our TV page, or contact your own cable or satellite TV supplier for "what's available" and "how to" information.  You can report findings on our forum, and you can report problems to us at advocacy@acb.org.  BTW, we plan to have sound samples from various providers soon.  Check our Television page.  (Updated Dec 20)

Audio Description Coming to Airlines ... Eventually

The US DOT (Department of Transportation) has a rulemaking committee called the ACCESS Advisory Committee whose mission is to develop rules concerning accommodations for air travelers with disabilities.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in part:  "It is unfair ... for passengers who are deaf or blind not to be able to enjoy the same entertainment that is available to other passengers.  I’m pleased that all involved parties are working together towards our common goal of universal access to the air transportation system."  This means, in particular, that in-flight entertainment systems would offer audio described content.  The "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" will not be issued until July 2017, and airlines would have nine months to comply after a FINAL notice is posted ... so don't hold your breath on this!  However, Japan's ANA Airline and Emirates Airline currently offer audio described movies, so hopefully other airlines will offer AD sooner than later.  (Posted Dec 15)

National Parks Service Audio Tours
by Denise Decker, Committee Liaison to the NPS

For almost a year, the Museums and Performing Arts Subcommittee of the ACB's Audio Description Project has been working with representatives of the US Park Service to enhance access and audio description in our national parks.  Because the National Park Service (NPS) is decentralized, we are first reaching out to the most frequently visited parks and to those parks in which ACB members have expressed interest.

To that end, NPS specialists are currently adapting our Assessment Guide for Museums and Exhibits (still in development) so it can be used in the national park system.  ACB members will then be asked to use this guide when visiting their favorite national parks.  The feedback they provide will be used to improve park access and audio description.

The ADP committee is grateful to our Park Service colleagues for their sincere commitment to audio description, and we look forward to ongoing work with them on this mutually beneficial project.  To read a "success story" on this cooperation, read Blake Lindsay's article on his experiences participating with Tucson Arizona's Saguaro National Park and the Carlsbad Cavern State Park in New Mexico.  (Posted Dec 13)

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Audio Description News

Look Up!

We have a new row of navigation options on the website.  They are direct links to our listings of audio described offerings on Netflix, iTunes, TV, Movies, and DVDs.  (Posted Jan 3)

Audio Described DVDs and Blu-ray Discs

There were three new audio described DVDs released on January 10 and two on January 3:  The Accountant, Deepwater Horizon, The Birth of a Nation, Blair Witch, and Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life.  Last year, 148 audio described DVDs were released, with 705 audio described since 1998.

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End of 2016:  When the Bough Breaks, Storks, Sully, The Magnificent Seven (Blu-ray), Ben-Hur, Bridget Jones's Baby, Equity, Florence Foster Jenkins, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, Morgan, Suicide Squad, Jason Bourne, more ...

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Netflix and iTunes Update

2016 was a great year for the expansion of audio described offerings from both Netflix and iTunes.  Netflix now offers over 250 programs with description, while iTunes has over 500 described films. Most, but not all, movies released with description on DVD are available with description on iTunes, and we list that information on our DVDs page.  Usually they hit iTunes first, but occasionally they are delayed.  Netflix now has an exclusive streaming content contract with Disney and its subsidiaries like Marvel, and the fruits of that arrangement are already being realized.  See Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars Titles Coming to Netflix in 2017

Both iTunes and Netflix have been responsive to requests for improvement from the ADP.  For instance, iTunes now allows users to get to the list of described movies from the iTunes app on PCs and Macs, as well as select mobile devices (like iPads).  Netflix has recently released the ability to download some shows on mobile devices, a glitch in not downloading the description tracks has been fixed, and as of last month you can now view the list of shows with description on Apple TVs.

View our own alphabetized lists of all described titles on Netflix and iTunes.  (New direct links to these are now at the top of every web page.)  We post updates on Twitter and Facebook.  (Updated Jan 3)

New Audio Described TV Series

Fox has premiered a comedy The Mick Tuesdays at 8:30pm and premiered Star on Wednesdays at 9pm.

See our page describing what's described on TV and how to get it and/or view the current schedule of described TV shows.   (Updated Jan 3)

Switched at Birth

A group of blind TV watchers lead by Robert Kingett have been petitioning to get the TV show Switched at Birth audio described.  The ABC Family network show, which won a Peabody Award, features several deaf and hard-of-hearing cast members with some scenes shot entirely in American Sign Language.  The group was notified recently that "audio description tracks for this series are currently in production" with 29 episodes complete.  The show is also carried on Netflix which plans to carry the description in early 2017 when all description tracks have been delivered and checked for quality.  See the Switched at Birth Update.  (Updated Dec 15)

Movie Theaters To Be Required To Provide AD

This Justice Department signed a "Final Rule" affecting the ADA Title III.  "The Final Rule requires movie theaters [which have digital equipment] to: (1) have and maintain the equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio description at a movie patron's seat whenever showing a digital movie produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with these features; (2) provide notice to the public about the availability of these features; and (3) ensure that theater staff is available to assist patrons with the equipment before, during, and after the showing of a movie with these features."  However, theaters will have 18 months to comply, and the minimum number of devices required for AD is less than 1 per screen.  (Updated Dec 3)

The Audio Description Project's website collects and provides information on audio description in all its forms: live theatre, television, movies, DVDs, and more.  Started in 2002 by AD International, funding and direction for this website now come from the American Council of the Blind's Audio Description Project (started in March 2009).  Read more about this site ...

Audio Description (AD) is the descriptive narration of key visual elements of live theatre, television, movies, and other media to enhance their enjoyment by consumers who are blind or have low vision.  AD is the insertion of audio explanations and descriptions of the settings, characters, and action taking place in such media, when such information about these visual elements is not offered in the regular audio presentation.  Read more about audio description ...

Based on his doctoral thesis and teaching audio description around the world, ADP Project Director Dr Joel Snyder's book, The Visual Made Verbal, is available in print (English and Russian), for Kindle, and on Bookshare.  Read more details about Dr Snyder's book...

Dedicated organizations around the world facilitate the offering of audio description in select movie theaters, videos, live theatre, and television programming, and this website attempts to expose their fine work to as many interested viewers as possible. Thank you for visiting!