1.2.3/1.2.5/1.2.7 Audio description for prerecorded video (part 1)

 This guideline is given at all three levels:

1.2.3 Level A - provide audio description or a text alternative

1.2.5 Level AA - provide audio description - this generally fits between existing audio/dialogue

1.2.7 Level AAA - provide extended audio description (this is where the video pauses to give more information to the user in a longer audio description that wouldn't fit neatly between existing audio

Audio description (AA)

Unlike captions, which YouTube helps you to do, audio description actually involves some planning and a fair bit of extra work. I confess, I have never attempted to do a video with audio description as it seems a daunting task. Maybe now is the time to have a go!

Choosing a video

This is where I realise why I haven't considered making an audio description yet. Most of my recent videos are instruction videos and I'm kind of giving the information as I go. With hindsight, I could have probably planned them with more thought for those that can't see the screen... maybe I should make some videos specifically for JAWS users... but then, they would probably be better as a podcast.

So I've looked through my videos to find one that might benefit from audio description and I've chosen the one I made last April for the #2.6Challenge. I created a video, lasting 2 mins 36 secs to show how Liggy helps me at home during lockdown. It contains a couple of brief sections of speech, which don't need audio description and these are interspersed with several clips of Liggy performing tasks. These are heavily visual - you have to see them to understand what she is doing - so should have an audio description. There are also captions on the screen for certain parts... these should be read also. Here's the video, before I do any work on it.

Where to begin

I created the video and edited it in Adobe Premiere Pro. I know that this provides the option to record directly into the software, so I could create a new audio track and just record directly. From previous attempts at doing this, I remember echo being a major issue. I could hear my voice played back a second or two after I spoke. I found this too distracting to ignore. I could mute the volume and try it.

Plan B would be to record each utterance in Adobe Audition, save it as an mp3 file and import it into Premiere Pro. This might be easier then, to edit and move around. It would, however, probably be easier if I create a transcript first. That way, I can concentrate on making the recordings and then just import and move them around. An advantage of this method is that it is currently -4oC outside and I'm still in my pyjamas, so I could pop the video on YouTube on the telly and make the transcript right here on my Chromebook. Later, when it's a bit warmer and I'm dressed, I can go down the office and record my audio. Yep! That appeals!


  1. Title: Lockdown with Liggy
  2. Liggy is putting her head inside the washing machine, removing items of clothing and putting them in a basket next to the machine.
  3. At the end, Liggy spins the drum to make sure she hasn't missed anything, and then shuts the washing machine door.
  4. Liggy picks up a walking stick which has fallen on the floor and returns it to her partner.
  5. Liggy fetches the phone from its holder on a shelf and takes it carefully to her partner.
  6. Liggy picks up the TV remote control from the floor and takes it to her partner.
  7. Liggy tugs her partner's socks off and gives them back to her.
  8. Liggy lifts the footplate on the stair lift. 
  9. Liggy lies down at the bottom of the stairs and waits for her partner to go up on the stair lift. When her partner gets to the top, she runs up the stairs and lifts the footplate.
  10. Liggy's partner is in a wheelchair, unlocking an outbuilding. She drops the key. Liggy picks up the key and returns it to her.
  11. The partner comes into the house through the back door. [Liggy shut the door.] Once she is through, Liggy closes the door by tugging a rope which is attached to the door handle.
  12. Liggy runs to the front door, picks up a large brown envelope from the door mat and brings it to her partner. 
  13. Liggy and her partner are sitting together on a garden swing seat. Liggy kisses her partner and her partner strokes her and gives her lots of cuddles.
When I first wrote this down, I used the terms, 'the dog' and 'her owner' but this sounded too impersonal and the tone of the video is warm and focuses on their partnership. So I changed it to 'Liggy' and 'her partner', which I think sounds better.

I think I'll publish this now and then do a second part to show the finished video (with audio description) and discuss any challenges I encountered. The one thing I am thinking about is that it might be best to get someone else to record these for me. I think the audio descriptions would be best in a different voice from the video content. If anyone is still reading and fancies volunteering to create me 13 mp3 tracks, as above, please do not hesitate to get in touch! I will give you full credit... and you will be part of this amazing journey into WCAG!


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