Accessibility for YouTube videos has improved a lot over the last few years with the addition of captioning software, but there is still no automated method for how to create audio description for YouTube to help viewers with vision impairments. Audio description cannot be automatically generated like captions and must be done manually by people. Luckily, there is an amazing service that allows volunteers to write and create audio description for YouTube videos called YouDescribe. Today, I will be sharing how to create audio description for YouTube with the free YouDescribe website.
YouDescribe is a free website and iOS app that allows viewers to watch YouTube videos with audio description. The audio description tracks are written and recorded by sighted volunteers so that people with blindness and low vision can watch YouTube videos and receive visual information. YouDescribe is a project of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco, California.
YouDescribe is available online and as a free iOS app. At this time, audio description tracks can only be created through web browsers. YouDescribe can be used with or without an account for viewing videos, but connecting to a Google account is required for requesting videos and creating descriptions.
Audio description, sometimes referred to as descriptive audio or described video, is an additional narrator track that provides visual information for people who otherwise would not be able to see it. Audio description is provided during natural pauses in dialogue so it does not distract from the video. Occasionally, describers may pause the video themselves and add description if there are no natural pauses available.
For YouDescribe videos, open audio description is used, meaning that the audio description automatically plays and does not require a special device to be used.
YouDescribe is a way for people with blindness and low vision to watch YouTube videos without missing out on important visual information. Once they are on the YouDescribe website or app, users can browse featured videos or search for videos to watch that have audio description.
The audio description tracks are added to existing YouTube videos by volunteer describers. Any video on YouTube can be described on YouDescribe, but I highly recommend checking the wish list and describing a video from the list if possible.
Anyone can register to describe videos for YouDescribe. There is no cost to join YouDescribe, but I strongly suggest that users have their own microphone and headphones. The recording software is built-in to the YouDescribe website, so there are no additional downloads needed. You don’t need fancy equipment to create awesome audio description!
Some examples of people who would likely be awesome at creating audio description include:
As previously mentioned, I highly recommend checking the YouDescribe wish list when choosing which video to describe. If the video is not on the wish list, run a search for the video title on the search bar and then click the “describe” button.
After clicking the “describe” button, users are taken to the authoring screen for creating audio descriptions. From there, users can watch the video and pause it as needed.
I recommend writing notes in the notes box on the right side of the screen for easy reference. When writing notes, pay attention to the following information:
After you write your notes, practice reading them while the video plays, and refine them as needed. Great audio descriptions have the following characteristics:
Once you have created your script, it’s time to record your description! There are two types of descriptions:
The first type of description is inline description. These play concurrently with the video audio and do not require any pauses. Inline description can be used where dialogue or music is not important, or during transition scenes.
The second type of description is extended description. The video is paused while the audio description plays, and then continues when the description is finished. I recommend using extended description for videos where dialogue or music are important, or for longer descriptions. Both types of description can be used in a video.
To add a description:
Before you submit your video, watch it with your eyes closed and ask yourself the following questions:
Once all of those questions have been answered with a yes, go ahead and click publish. Viewers will watch the video and rate your description so that you can get feedback.
I’m grateful for all of the volunteer audio describers at YouDescribe. I rely a lot on audio description to be able to watch videos, because I have low vision and photosensitivity to flashing lights, which makes it hard for me to watch videos independently. Thanks to audio description, I can watch the same videos as my sighted peers and not have to keep asking questions about visual information. I highly recommend describing YouTube videos with YouDescribe if you are looking for an interesting online volunteer opportunity or want to increase accessibility of YouTube videos.
Published on Paths to Technology with permission.
By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com