Webinar: Audio Description, A Federal Perspective


audio version (opens in a new tab)




It amazes me how much content is available with visual information audibly described. In March 2021, I wrote an article about this same subject. I suggest reading

my previous article about audio description.

On January 25, 2022, I attended a webinar about the same subject. It was presented by the

U.S. Access Board 

The topic was

“The Wonderful World of Audio Description in 2022 – Getting Started, Discovering What is Out There, Enjoying the Process and the Product”.

The link above provides access to the handouts and webinar recording. In this blog post, I will summarize what I learned and provide some additional resources.


The webinar provides a federal perspective about audio description.

Audio Description: A Brief Introduction

The first presenter was a professional describer from

Audio Description Associates.

Audio description is an audio track which verbally explains visual material for visually limited persons. This can include face expressions, actions and text on the screen. The audio describer stated importance of only describing essential information. He also stated that audio description can help both blind and sighted people understand crucial vision information. He also stated that audio describers must focus on explaining what they see. They also need to select what is crucial. It is also important to use the right words when describing visual information. Additionally, the describer should be objective rather than subjective. Objectivity in this context means not assuming what is happening visually. He recommended the

American Council of the Blind’s Audio Description Project.

This web site provides information about finding audio description for exhibits, television, movies and more.

The presentation then focused on the audio description efforts of some U.S. federal agencies.


The second presenter was from the

National Park Service (NPS).

Audio Description from the National Park Service

NPS offers a variety of audio-described videos. For example, the presenter said that Old Faithful and print material both have audio description. I could not find an audio-described video about Old Faithful online. It is possible the audio description might only be available in-person at Yellowstone National Park. The NPS representative stated during the webinar that NPS offers audio description through their web site and

NPS mobile app.

If people visit the National Park Service in-person, they can borrow a device which provides audio description. The National Park Service began audio-describing their products for increased accessibility and federal requirements under Section 808 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. They provide audio description through trained staff and contracted audio describers. She also stated that audio description should be about collaboration, not simply compliance. The two other presenters were from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and National Cancer institute.


Audio Description from the National Cancer Institute and Veterans Affairs


Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)


audio description

as a disability accommodation. It is available to people who visit VA exhibits in-person. The VA is looking into providing audio description on their YouTube channel and electronic learning opportunities. The

National Cancer Institute

has been adding audio description to the National Institute of Health YouTube channel. The National Cancer Institute emphasized the importance of understanding necessity of audio description and making its availability more publicly known. The VA representative said his federal agency is working to increase the number of audio-described videos. The National Cancer Institute representative then shared audio description best practices.


Audio Description Best Practices

Audio description should be implemented and considered from the start, not an afterthought. It should also be easier to turn audio description on or off, separate from closed captions. It should also be determined if audio description can be done by only adding description to visual content in moments of silence, edited in to provide as much audio description as necessary or providing one video to everyone. I will now provide some additional audio description resources.


Additional Resources recommended by Blake

The Audio Description Project which I referenced earlier also has

audio description samples.

Using Google, I searched for audio-described content available on the National Park Service web site and provide two examples here:

Audio Described Brochure from a national park in Indiana


audio description of exhibits in a New Jersey national park.

On the New Jersey national park web site referenced above, I listened to the audio-described video about Delaware Water Gap. The video taught me how the Delaware River was formed. I also recommend checking out


It is a project enabling anyone to provide audio description of visual content in YouTube videos. Since contributions to YouDescribe are voluntary, I can understand why none of the webinar presenters referenced it. Bottom line: A variety of audio description resources are available for people with disabilities who can benefit from it.


Question for Readers

If you find audio description beneficial, what forms do you find or use it in most? Examples: television, Netflix, movies, exhibits etc. I will return with another article.



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