RNIB international AD study. Observations from a focus group study
Year of publication
Audio Description (AD) is like a narrator telling a story. It is an additional commentary that describes body language, expressions and movements, making the story clear through sound. AD is often relied upon by blind and partially sighted people in the same manner as subtitles are relied upon by deaf and hard of hearing people. The development of AD has been quite fragmented across the world. In the UK, AD is currently available across television channels, cinemas, home entertainment products such as DVDs, Blu-ray discs and on two online catch up players. Many other countries have made AD available on different media platforms as has been found practical and feasible. They may not necessarily call the narrative track audio description; instead several other terms are used such as video description and descriptive narration. Descriptive Video Service®, registered trademark of WGBH created for its video description service is one such term that is quite often used in the US. With the availability of AD increasing across many countries in the world, it is time to look at the exchange of these access features between countries e.g. AD tracks as assets with the original content. The exchange of television content between countries is common practise these days as is the production of DVDs for multiple regions so such a system of AD exchange would ideally minimise any duplication, thereby bringing down production costs and resources allocated to the production of AD. With film companies releasing DVDs and Blu-rays of film/s across many countries, it is now possible to include the same AD track on DVDs/ Blu-rays being released across a number of countries. A very successful and existing example of this exchange would be DVDs and Blu-rays currently being released in Australia with AD tracks that were produced by UK film distributors primarily for UK audiences. However, since the primary target of these AD tracks is the community of blind and partially sighted people, it is important that their views are taken into consideration before any such system is put in place. Therefore, this study sought to establish whether or not internationally produced AD would be acceptable to blind or partially sighted regular AD users in the UK.