Make Videos More Accessible with Descriptive Narration

By: Verbit Editorial
hands typing on a laptop that is displaying different image thumbnails on screen

In recent years, content creators, business leaders and marketers have grown increasingly dependent upon video materials for their internal and external communications. Video is a versatile medium with a wide range of possible applications, but it isn’t always inclusive for audiences who are blind or have low vision. Offering descriptive narration of video content is a great way to boost accessibility for viewers who are affected by eye disorders or vision loss.

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woman with laptop using descriptive narration

What is Descriptive Narration?

Descriptive narration – sometimes referred to as audio description or descriptive video – is an accessibility solution that uses voice overs or on-screen text to describe the visual elements of a video. The descriptive narration definition is somewhat subjective in that it may look slightly different across different platforms. In general, however, professional describers will analyze videos to craft comprehensive explanations of the images that appear on screen. The descriptive narration of these images will then play during pauses in a video. In this way, the descriptions don’t detract from any important audio elements.  

There are two main styles of audio description: Standard audio description and extended audio description. Standard audio description offers concise descriptions of visual elements play during the video’s natural pauses. Extended audio description, however, contains more detailed descriptions. With extended audio description, the video pauses to accommodate these more comprehensive descriptive narrations.  

air pods and laptop

What is the Purpose of This Descriptive Narration?

Descriptive narration provides equitable viewing experiences for audience members who are blind or have low vision. Individuals with vision and eye disorders may not be able to clearly see the visual elements of a video, which can sometimes make it difficult to follow the plot. Audio elements alone are not always sufficient for conveying the message or story of a video. Descriptive narration helps to ensure more equal messaging for all viewers.  With this feature, it’s easier for people with vision loss to engage with their favorite brands and content creators.

Descriptive narration can also be a great resource for viewers with autism spectrum disorder. Some people affected by ASD need additional support to accurately interpret social cues and body language. Comprehensive descriptive narration of these visual cues can help to clarify intent for viewers with ASD. There is also great educational potential for descriptive narration, meaning viewers with ASD can continue to learn from the clear explanations of actions and behaviors the actors depict on screen.

Offering descriptive narration for a wide range of video content is an effective means of fostering inclusivity. However, it’s also a way to support key accessibility standards from the ADA and FCC. Captioning videos has already become a common practice for creators and business leaders alike. This is because captioning offers inclusive communications for individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Similarly, descriptive narration is a means of leveling the playing field for the millions of Americans who are affected by vision loss, as well as for viewers with autism.  

a person with headphones on and working an audio software on a computer

How Can I Offer Descriptive Narration?

In order to offer truly equitable viewing experiences for audience members who are blind or have low vision, it is important to partner with a trusted descriptive narration service like Verbit. Verbit provides accessibility solutions like captioning, transcription and audio description that deliver on accuracy without compromising on efficiency.  

Creators looking to add descriptive narration to their videos can simply upload their content to Verbit’s platform. In cases where creators want to provide descriptions for many videos, Verbit makes it easy to upload videos in bulk. Users can upload MP3 files to the platform, or simply use links to YouTube or Vimeo content.

Verbit’s describers undergo rigorous training to learn how to produce appropriate descriptions and meet the expectations of international standards. For instance, describers learn to focus on the most relevant elements while producing concise descriptions that don’t detract from the original audio.

The final product allows video creators to meet international accessibility standards set by WCAG. Additionally, with the assistance of Verbit’s streamlined process and key integrations with leading video platforms, providing this service is easier than ever.  

Verbit: Making Video Content for All

Verbit offers a broad spectrum of industry-leading accessibility technologies that can support a wide range of marketing and outreach initiatives. Offering more accessible videos can help to improve viewer engagement and contribute to more positive brand experiences for audience members of all backgrounds and abilities.   

By partnering with Verbit, companies can support these critical accessibility and inclusivity standards. Reach out today to learn more about how captioning, transcription, translation and audio description can help content creators and business leaders reach more diverse audiences.