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Audio Description Benefits for All Audiences

Audio description benefits are manifold. The technology can assist vision-impaired audiences in almost any industry to view video content without missing context. This is extremely important when considering that equal access is legally required for many organizations in order to remain compliant with relevant accessibility standards including WCAG and the ADA.

Audio Description Benefits in Education

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Using audio description in the classroom comes with many advantages. It’s a tool that not only helps those with vision impairments but can also have benefits for every type of student. Whether you’re using audio description in the classroom to fully depict lecture context or images in a textbook, instructors can maximize the quality of their online courses and increase accessibility for all students.

Increased Accessibility

Audio description was developed to aid those with low vision or blindness and is the number one use of audio description. It provides the opportunity for those with visual impairments to receive the same level of engagement with image-heavy textbooks, videos, or pre-recorded lectures as their peers.

Amidst COVID-19, many students with learning disabilities were left on the back-burning as institutions moved online, according to Inside Higher Ed. As we approach the 2021 fall semester, it’s increasingly important that administrations adhere to accessibility requirements and provide audio description in the classroom for all students.

Aid Auditory Learners

By nature, online learning is either visual or auditory or a combination of the two. Audio description in the classroom helps auditory learners to stay focused and understand the material the best way they can — by listening. Instead of focusing their attention on the visual elements, such as a professor walking around the classroom or an image of DNA appearing in their textbook, auditory learners can apply their cognitive skills to the material itself.

As courses move back to their in-person format, audio description continues to play an integral role in auditory learners’ educational experience. While some lectures may be fully live, any video or recorded option can still utilize audio description.

Prevent Students from Missing Important Information

Inattentional blindness is a phenomenon that describes why humans sometimes fail to see important visual clues that are right in front of us. Whether this is because of distractions or a lack of cognitive focus, inattentional blindness can be detrimental to students’ learning. Audio description helps to keep students engaged and points out the important visual information, making it impossible to gloss over. Instructors will find that those who utilize audio description in the classroom for videos or lectures will remember more and therefore have higher test scores and grades.

Create More Searchable Data

Institutions benefit from indexing and compiling their educational data. Audio description creates a robust way to transcribe all available data, including the visual elements. This leads to searchable text that saves both students and faculty time in finding the desired educational materials. Audio description also aids in creating higher-quality metadata that can increase site SEO or maximize resources for internal use.

Audio Description Benefits for All Audiences

Facilitates Auditory Learning

We all process incoming information differently. Some learn visually, while others retain more through auditory sources. In fact, 30% of the population learns best through hearing. The inclusion of audio descriptions, therefore, helps individuals in this group fully comprehend the media.

Eliminates Perceptual Blindness

This is a benefit that isn’t immediately apparent to most. For those who don’t know about perceptual blindness, it’s a psychological phenomenon that causes individuals to miss things even though they’re right in front of them, often because they’re too focused on something else or not focused at all.

Audio descriptions can help address perceptual blindness by pointing out on-screen elements, so viewers never miss out on key visuals.

Offers Flexibility

Audio descriptions allow individuals to experience video content without having to actually view it. This creates flexibility within our media consumption since the viewer is not tied to a screen.

Audio description gaining traction as more people are starting to enjoy substituting videos with audio. Audio descriptions deliver an experience similar to audiobooks, and people appreciate being able to enjoy immersive entertainment even while they’re driving, cooking, or doing other tasks.

Enhances Viewing Experience for Autistic Individuals

Autistic individuals may find it difficult to decipher on-screen expressions and social cues. Audio transcriptions aid those on the autistic spectrum in interpreting these visual elements through narration, which may be otherwise hard for them to recognize.

The audio track works as another channel of input, thereby reinforcing information they can now process visually as well as auditorily.

Develops Linguistic Skills Among Children

Audio descriptions can provide children with stimulation that helps develop their linguistic abilities. A crucial aspect of language development is listening to others to understand the context and meaning of specific words and phrases. Audio description helps children connect the dots between words and actions and adds to their overall vocabulary. Audio description can also help students experience livelier and more engaging instruction.

Helps Avoid Costly Lawsuits

Several federal laws, including Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, mandate audio descriptions. Skipping audio descriptions can provoke lawsuits that will cost money and time. It’s prudent to always add audio descriptions to ensure you’re abiding by the accessibility laws.

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Mitchell is the Marketing Manager at cielo24. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California and currently resides in New Jersey. He leads all blog posts, eBooks, marketing email campaigns, and content marketing.