Adding an audio description to your videos

What difference does it make to include an audio description on a video? How much does it really help those who are visually impaired?

Disabled people are not a homogenous group, and audio description is just one aspect that will support some people. However, considering your audience from the outset will ensure you are creating all the formats they need.

On this page:

What audio description sounds like

Close your eyes. 

Play each of these videos in turn, keeping your eyes closed.

Video 1: no audio description

Find more details about the video on YouTube: video with no audio description (3 minutes 30).

Video 2 with audio description

You can find the transcript on YouTube: video with audio description (5 minutes).

Watching the first video, were you clear about what was happening? Could you follow the story? That is the reality for almost 2 million people living with sight loss in the UK. Of these, around 360,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted, according to figures from the NHS.

The video you have just experienced was created for the launch of the National Disability Strategy. Designed to put the voices and experiences of disabled people at the centre,  mirroring the approach that was taken to create the strategy itself. 

Options to add an audio description to your videos

For audio description specifically, work with your supplier or video team on a script to overlay to your visual content. The key is simplicity – just describe what you are seeing so no one misses out.

To add audio descriptions to your videos, you have the following options.

Build the description in the video

As you record your video, add your audio description. This means that everyone who views the video will hear the audio description. 

For example, an easy way to create audio descriptions in your video is to have your subjects identify themselves and their surroundings (instead of showing their name on screen). 

Make another video

Make another video that includes the audio description. You can then direct people who would like to use it, to the audio-described version. Host it on the same platform so people can find it.

Use a third-party option

Third-party agencies or plugins exist to add a toggle for audio descriptions. This usually requires a paid subscription. 

We do not endorse or recommend any specific provider, these are just examples (3 play media or Scribit), you should do your own research about them and their terms and conditions.

Standards of best practice

Once you start considering accessibility at the beginning of your communications planning, it becomes more straightforward to create accessible content. 

The result? Everyone has the opportunity to access your message, and you create content that works for everyone.

When writing audio descriptions you should:

  • write simply and clearly
  • who is speaking
  • what is the location
  • don’t be afraid to describe colours
  • use accurate and descriptive language
  • avoid technical terms
  • use complete sentences
  • match the audio with the style and tone of the content
  • avoid personal interpretations and opinions