Audio description

An audio description is an additional audio track that’s added to the video to describe and give context for essential information that’s not included in the video’s audio track and only communicated visually on the screen.

The audio description can be turned on or off by the viewer, in the same way that closed captions can be.

When turned on, the audio description plays in the pauses between the programme’s dialogue. Essential visual information that should be included in an audio description relates to things like:

Examples of videos with an audio description

For more on audio descriptions, see:

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

Audio descriptions are always good to provide, if possible. However, to meet the NZ Government Web Accessibility Standard, audio descriptions are only required for pre-recorded videos that contain high-stakes information.

When a video has an audio description, this meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 1.2.5 Audio Description (Prerecorded) (Level AA).

How an audio description makes a video more accessible

Audio descriptions provide access to video content for people who:

How to create an audio description

Before a video is produced

It’s cheaper and easier to plan for the creation of an audio description before a video is produced. For more, see Plan for audio description of visual information — storyboarding, recording — W3C.

Adding an audio description to an existing video

If the video has already been produced, the audio description will need to be narrated, recorded and integrated into new audio or video files.

Alternatively, if the media player you are using supports text-based audio description that is read aloud, you can create a Video Text Track (VTT) file with the timed descriptions.

If you do not have these skills and tools, you can pay a service to create the audio description using:

These are some examples of services that provide audio descriptions for videos: