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Digital Accessibility

Audio Descriptions

Audio descriptions provide a narrative of the visual content for those who can't look at the screen. Making audio descriptions part of every video is a best practice for digital accessibility compliance. 

Consider Audio Descriptions for All Videos

Audio descriptions provide a verbal depiction of the visual information in videos and live productions. You should consider audio descriptions for any video that provides information solely through visual means. This will make your content more usable for people who:

  • Are in a situation or environment where they can't look at the screen.
  • Have vision loss or impairments.
  • Prefer to hear descriptions due to the way they absorb visual cues.
  • Are non-native speakers who want to improve comprehension. 

When Audio Descriptions Might Not Be Necessary

If your video is just text on a background, there won't be much, if any, visual information to describe. This may also be true of a video interview where the environment or subject doesn't change. If the speakers and visual information are identified verbally, audio descriptions of this information would be redundant and may be omitted.

Videos Created by Someone Else

If someone else created the video and you don't have any way to edit it, providing text of your audio descriptions with timestamps for each line of description is an acceptable alternative. Provide these descriptions directly on the screen or as an accessible document in close proximity to the video.

Text-Based Audio Descriptions

You can use the same process you would use for writing a video transcript.

Transcript Writing Instructions »

How to Write and Add Descriptions to Videos



Audio Descriptions Example Video

Sarah, a former USC student, sits with her hands in front of her at a table in a campus computer lab.
Sarah Massengale talks about digital accessibility.

The audio descriptions in this video are placed at the beginning and end of the video to accommodate content that is mostly narration with few natural pauses.


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