A Day in the Life of an Audio Describer

A Day in the Life of an Audio Describer

by April Sullivan

What is “A Day in the Life” of an Audio Describer like?

Well, each day is unique! I could be describing an algebra lesson, or a live webinar presentation, an eclectic animated music video, or preparing a script for an online art exhibit. Actually, that was just what I did last week! While each job involves different subject matter knowledge, we always use the same core skills of observe, analyze, and communicate to create an audio description.

Observe

First, I watch. If it is a video, I have the luxury to watch it over and over as many times as needed. If it is a live event, sometimes you only get the one time to watch! What am I looking for as I watch? I am looking for the visual activity that provides added understanding to what is being said. Besides watching, I am listening to the words as well as to the silences. The longer natural pauses in the dialogue are my chance to add audio description.

Analyze

Next, I think about what I am seeing and decide how important it really is to moving along the action of the event. Have you ever created a slideshow? Sometimes, you just insert pictures into your slideshow that really aren’t important. This type of visual is what is known as decorative image or “eye candy.” Just something to break up the words on the slide or provide visual interest to keep the sighted audience from losing interest. So, do I need to describe that to the person who is blind and listening to this slideshow presentation? Probably not. But maybe, for example, if it is a funny cartoon and everyone laughs when they see it. The person in the audience who is blind wants to laugh too!

Communicate

Finally, after watching and thinking, it is time to write. I only have a few seconds to convey information, so I need to choose my words carefully. What is the most succinct, but expressive, way to say something about what I am looking at?

This process then continues until I am happy with my product. I watch again, speaking my description aloud. I analyze what I have written, and edit if it is confusing or too long.

Audio description is like a fun brain puzzle.

It involves both common sense and complex thinking at the same time. I can’t wait to find out what my next AD job will involve. Maybe a dance or a nature video, or even a history lesson.

To learn more about Audio Description, tune in to our virtual Community Conversation on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 7 pm CDT. View or Facebook event for more information.

Recent Audio Description

Art Spark Texas was pleased to provide the audio description, in both English and Spanish, for K’uku (‘Unripe Fruit’ in Quechua) an amazing composition for string quintet, percussion, voice, electronics, and video, with music by composer Pauchi Sasaki and video by artist Juan Carlos Yanaura. The piece was commissioned by the Americas Society, which had its world premiere July 23, 2020.

View the video on YouTube with audio description in English or in Spanish. There is an introduction segment by the artists, with the video portion starting at 8:30 for the English version and at 11:39 for the Spanish Version. Fast forward or rewind the video as needed.

Click here to see other audio description samples by Art Spark Texas.

Interested in Audio Description Services?

For more information about audio description, or to book a description or training, please contact Art Spark Texas at [email protected], or call 1-866-489-8412.

April Sullivan
Programs Director, Art Spark Texas

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