Jump to content
Get a Quote

A Quick Guide to Audio Description for US Businesses

Learn about audio description and how it can make your videos accessible to a wider audience. This guide is perfect for US businesses looking to improve their video accessibility.

Audio description (AD) is a narrated audio track that describes visual elements in media. This accessibility measure helps visually impaired people enjoy visual media, such as movies and YouTube videos.

With around 8% of the US population having some form of visual impairment, audio description services can significantly improve your content’s reach while making the world a more inclusive place. AD is also required by law in many cases, especially for business communications.

In this audio description guide, you’ll learn how to stay compliant and engage with visually impaired audiences accurately and meaningfully. We’ll also explore the benefits of AD and the approaches to creating effective AD content.

What is Audio Description?

Audio description (AD) is an additional audio track that narrates the visual elements of a video, film, or any other multimedia content. This narration includes descriptions of actions, facial expressions, scene changes, costumes, and other visual details that are not apparent through dialogue alone.

The goal of audio description is to paint a clearer picture of the action on screen, creating a more inclusive viewing experience for blind and visually impaired audiences. This is not always easy, as audio descriptions typically fit between the existing audio segments of a video in a natural way.

AD should also match the tone and cadence of the content to maintain an immersive experience. For example, the AD for a children’s movie may be light and whimsical, while the AD for a thriller might be harsh and urgent.

For these reasons and more, audio descriptive voice overs can significantly influence the viewer’s experience. If viewers are engaging with your marketing materials or social media content, AD can impact their perception of your brand.

This is why it’s critical to work with an audio description service that has the experience to convey your story or message as you intend.

Kelly sikkema F7 Uon ANW5 LU unsplash
Credit to Kelly Sikkema

Types of Audio Description

Audio description is known by several names, including Descriptive Video Service (DVS), Video Description and Audio Narration. They all describe the same service, more or less.

There are two main types of AD:

  • Standard Audio Description: This type of AD fits within the natural pauses of the original content’s audio. It’s carefully timed to avoid overlapping with dialogue, making it suitable for videos with less speaking.
  • Extended Audio Description: This type of AD is used when there is not enough time to fit descriptions within the content’s original audio. The video pauses temporarily to make room for the necessary descriptions.

The Benefits of Audio Description

Audio description makes media more accessible, and it may improve your business by bringing in new customers.

Here are a few benefits of prioritizing audio description for your visual content.

  • Accessibility and Inclusion: Audio description makes visual content accessible to over 20 million Americans with some degree of visual impairment. Everyone should be able to enjoy and understand visual content, and AD helps make the world a more inclusive place.
  • Expand Your Reach: Audio description can significantly expand the reach of your content by making it accessible to a broader audience. By incorporating multilingual audio descriptions, you can engage the millions of global visually impaired consumers who rely on these services.
  • Avoid Compliance Issues: Various laws and regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, mandate audio description for certain types of content. Releasing content that does not comply with these regulations can land you in legal trouble.

Elements of High-Quality Audio Description

What should you look for when seeking audio description services? Not all service providers put the same care and attention into their descriptions, and that negatively affects the output.

The following elements are critical to creating quality AD:

  • Scriptwriting: AD scriptwriting involves analyzing the visual content and identifying which details to describe. Scripts must be clear, concise, and seamlessly integrated into the pauses of the dialogue. It’s recommended to use professional human scriptwriters for any customer-facing content. If necessary, the scripts also may need to be localized for international audiences.
  • Voice Talent: With the right voice talent, you can deliver engaging audio descriptions that match the tone of the content. Remember that AD isn’t meant to simply narrate the action. It should help your content come to life for visually impaired viewers.
  • Recording Quality: High-quality audio recording is essential for clarity and engagement. Muffled or hard-to-understand AD is distracting, and it will likely affect your intended message. Utilizing an agency like Wolfestone Group ensures your audio is professionally recorded and mastered.
  • Quality Control: Multiple levels of quality controls, including human and AI checks, should be employed to ensure that the final product is accurate and effective. AD is real scriptwriting, and it requires oversight by AD and compliance experts.

Can AI Be Used for Audio Description?

In certain cases, AI is increasingly being used to create voiceovers. In fact, we use AI for some voice over projects.

However, there are many limitations and risks associated with AI audio description.

AI-generated audio descriptions often lack the nuance and emotional depth that human narrators provide. AI may also struggle with context and cultural references, which can hinder a viewer’s understanding of on-screen elements.

You should always work with human AD experts when creating customer-facing content. AI is not yet reliable enough to trust with your marketing content or creative content—and often isn't allowed under certain broadcasting regulations.

Wolfestone Group: A Leader in Audio Description Services for US Businesses

Wolfestone Group specializes in delivering engaging and cinematic audio description solutions for businesses. Our end-to-end AD services cover scriptwriting, voice talent sourcing, recording and more.

We aren’t just accessibility professionals—at Wolfestone Group, we understand the complex needs of businesses. Our AD experts and project managers work together to create audio descriptions that engage viewers and promote a consistent brand voice across your communications. And, our compliance team ensures your AD content keeps you on the right side of the red tape.

We customize our services to meet the unique needs of each project, offering both standard and extended audio description. We also provide a variety of accessibility services, including live captions, SDH subtitles and ASL interpreting, helping you meet all of your compliance requirements easily and cost-effectively.

Contact Wolfestone Group today for a free consultation and learn how we can help you enhance your content’s reach and inclusivity.


Get the latest translation insights straight to your inbox