Audio Description On Youtube #AudioDescribeYT (Video Transcript)

Audio Description #AudioDescribeYT


In this video I describe what audio description is, how it is useful for the blind and visually impaired, and why it’s high time we should be able to add it to Youtube videos. This is in support of the #AudioDescribeYT campaign, launched by James Rath.

My Disability Playlist


James Rath (1)

James Rath (2)


Annie Elaney

Abby Sams

Jessica King

Fields Of Vision

Blog Posts:

My Blog – Audio Description & Youtube Subtitles

Fashioneyesta – Audio Description & Youtube Subtitles

The Blind Spot – Audio Description

Audio Description Information:


Audio Description Association (UK)

RNIB (UK) – Audio Description & Television

TV Help Audio Description (UK)

Audio Description Project (USA)

Audio Description Associates (USA)

Audio Described Online Content:

BBC iPlayer

Channel 4

Sky TV




Audio Described Theatre & Cinema:

Accessible Screenings

Mind’s Eye


Your Local Cinema

#AudioDescribe YT Hashtag:




Fashioneyesta (Emily Davison):

Fashioneyesta’s Blog

Fashioneyesta’s Youtube Channel

Fashioneyesta’s Twitter

Emily’s Shoutout To Me

My Social Media:

My Twitter

My Blog

Thanks for watching! ūüôā


[Video opens¬†with scrolling image of clouds against a blue sky, with the caption “Audio Description #AudioDescribeYT”.]

Hi everybody. In this video I want to add my voice to a campaign that was started by a Youtuber called James Rath, under the hashtag #AudioDescribeYT.

[Video shows a preview of James Rath’s clip playing on his channel. A caption shows his channel address, and says “Click above to watch James’ video. More links in description.”]

We’re basically asking Youtube to allow people to add audio description to their videos, because it would be extremely useful for people who are blind and partially sighted.

[Video shows a close-up of the toolbar below one of my videos (Living With Aniridia), as the mouse is used to  turn on closed-captions. The image zooms out to show the captions on screen as the video is played.]

Youtube has made some progress with accessibility already, because they already allow you to add closed captions – or subtitles – to your videos. Captions simply give a text version of the audio, which allows people who are deaf and hard of hearing to understand what’s being said. It can also tell them about any significant noises or pieces of music that are being played, that they would otherwise miss. In addition, captions are also used to translate videos into other languages, which is really useful even if you can hear. So captions really help to make your videos more accessible to a wider audience, and I’ve been adding captions to all of my videos for that reason.

[Video shows¬†the “Contribute subtitles and closed captions” section of my¬†Youtube Community settings, listing¬†the 3 videos from Fashioneyesta that I’ve added captions to – The Top Ten Misconceptions Of Visual Impairment Part 1¬†& Part 2, and The Scary Things About Being Visually Impaired.]

I’ve also tried out the community contributions feature to add subtitles to a few videos by Emily Davison over at Fashioneyesta, whose channel I strongly recommend you check out.

[Video shows¬†a scrolling screenshot of Fashioneyesta’s channel. A caption shows her¬†channel address, her blog¬†address and her Twitter name.]

She’s a wonderful disability campaigner, who has made loads of great videos and blog posts discussing issues faced by visually impaired people and disabled people in general, and posts a lot about beauty and fashion as well. She really knows her stuff, so do please check her out.

[Video shows a Facebook post from Fashioneyesta thanking me for captioning her videos. Another can be seen at this link.]

She gave me a flattering shoutout, so I’m more than happy to return the favour.

[Video shows more of my Living With Aniridia video with subtitles over the top.]

So all in all, captions are great. But they’re of no use whatsoever to people who are blind or partially sighted. If you can hear a video, but you can’t see it, then it becomes a very different experience, because you don’t know what’s going on. Try it with this clip I filmed recently, where I’ve blacked out the screen, and see what you can figure out.

[Video goes black. All you can hear are sounds of water and children playing for about 10 seconds. Video remains black while I continue speaking.]

This is how a totally blind person would be viewing it. And it’s clearly difficult, perhaps even frustrating or boring, because there isn’t a lot to go on. At most you can tell there’s water and children involved, but there’s no easy way of knowing where we are or what’s actually happening. But if I add some audio description, it should become a bit clearer…

[Video remains black. The soundtrack of the sample clip restarts, so I can give audio description over the top.]

In the sunshine, children play on a snaking, curved path, containing lots of small water fountains, which turn themselves on and off at random intervals. In the background is a tall, red, metal tower, surrounded by a spiralling slide, like a helter-skelter, and winding, curved girders. To its right is a large, round stadium, the entrance to which is blocked off by metal barriers.

[Video shows a photo of the area being described, panning up from the snaking fountain path to the tall Orbit Tower.]

From that, some of you may have worked out that we’re at the Olympic Park in London, and we’re next to the Orbit Tower and the Olympic Stadium. But even if you don’t know where we are from that description, at least you now have a much better sense of what was going on and how things looked. Here’s the actual footage…

[Video plays the sample clip with full visuals as I describe it.]

In the sunshine, children play on a snaking, curved path, containing lots of small water fountains, which turn themselves on and off at random intervals. In the background is a tall, red, metal tower, surrounded by a spiralling slide, like a helter-skelter, and winding, curved girders. To its right is a large, round stadium, the entrance to which is blocked off by metal barriers.

[Video shows more photos of the Olympic Park, with the Orbit Tower, Olympic Stadium, and the river running through the park, with swan-shaped pedalos moored by a jetty. I posted a little about that day out in a blog post after I returned.]

So by adding audio description, my video is now accessible to blind and partially sighted people, which allows them to understand and enjoy it, and allows me to broaden my potential audience.

Of course you have to be careful where you add the description and what you say. You have to be brief and concise, focusing only on the key points. And you can’t talk over anybody else that’s talking in the video, so you have to add description when there are suitable gaps. So it’s not quite as easy as it might sound, and some describers are better than others. But when you get it right, it is very useful indeed.

But this is where the problem lies, because Youtube does not currently give you the ability to add audio description, or indeed any type of alternative audio tracks for viewers to choose between.

[Video shows Youtube search results for audio description, which brings up trailers for Frozen and The Hunger Games with audio description, among many other clips.]

The best you can do is upload multiple versions of the same clip, but that takes up time and bandwidth for creators, and looks confusing and untidy to their subscribers.

[Video shows scrolling view of the YouDescribe website, showing videos that volunteers have added audio description to, along with a caption giving its address.]

There is an independent website called, which allows volunteers to add descriptions to Youtube clips. But it’s not very well known, and you have to watch the videos via that site, which means you can’t like or comment on them, or subscribe to the people who made them. So it’s a useful idea, but it’s not very convenient. Audio description should really be available on Youtube itself.

[Video¬†shows a scrolling screenshot of the RNIB’s web page about audio description.]

After all, audio description is readily available for many other types of media. Not as widely as it could or should be, and it’s not suitable for absolutely everything, but it’s increasingly common. So Youtube are very much behind the times right now.

[Video shows an extract from the Radio Times TV guide magazine. Zooming in on a programme called Victoria on ITV, we see below the description that there is an S in brackets for subtitles, AD in brackets for audio description, and HD in brackets for high definition. Coronation Street just before it also has the same symbols.]

For instance, audio description is widely available on TV these days. You’ll see it marked in TV guides with the AD symbol, just like you get S for subtitles. The descriptive audio is broadcast as a separate track, which some TVs may allow you to access on its own, if you know which button to push.

[Video shows a dark scene from the programme Containment. A caption credits the footage to E4 and Warner Brothers Television, and adds that it is being used for commentary and demonstration only, under the purposes of Fair Use.]

[Female Narrator] As he starts tackling the small fires with a fire extinguisher, Jana and the others join in, coughing in the smoke-filled air.

They all look down at the blackened bodies of the gang members.

Suddenly a man looks up and goes to attack Teresa, but Leanne steps between them and gets hurt. Dennis strikes the man down with a fire extinguisher.

[Video shows a daytime scene from the programme Walking The Himalayas. A caption credits the footage to Channel 4 and October Films, and adds that it is being used for commentary and demonstration only, under the purposes of Fair Use.]

[Male Narrator] Binod asks “Brother, which way do we go to follow the main path?”

Villagers old and young are dancing in the leafy landscape. Levison joins in as he keeps on walking.


They pave their way down a dry trail, then step from rock to rock in the river.

[Video shows a scrolling screenshot of the RNIB’s page about television viewing.]

[Back to my voiceover] So in order for it to work properly, you need a TV or a set-top box that is capable of accessing and combining the description track with the main audio of the programme. Panasonic and Samsung are two companies in particular who sell TVs with both audio description and voice guided menus.

[Video shows screenshots of audio described content on BBC iPlayer and Netflix.]

Online catchup services like BBC iPlayer and Channel 4, and other streaming services like iTunes and Netflix, also offer audio described content.

[Video shows screenshots of the websites for Mind’s Eye, which offers audio description services for theatres and visual arts in the UK, and Your Local Cinema, which has a list of cinemas and DVD releases offering audio description.]

And many cinemas and theatres also offer audio description services, by giving you special headphones that you can wear during the film or the stage performance. Again, it’s not available for everything, but it’s a good start.

Some DVDs and Blu-Ray discs also offer audio description, although it can be quite difficult to find discs that offer it sometimes. I’m often mystified when audio description is available for something you see on TV, but that description track is not then copied over to the DVD release.

[Video shows the back of my DVD cases for Spectre and Die Hard With A Vengeance, zooming in on the area that says the film has audio description.]

As it is, DVDs and Blu-Rays already use multiple audio tracks for a variety of reasons – such as surround sound, stereo sound, audio commentaries, alternative languages, music-only tracks and so on. So all they need to do is add an audio description track as well.

[Video shows the back of the Doctor Who Series 9 Blu-Ray case, zooming in on the area that says the series has audio description and audio navigation.]

The best examples I’ve seen of this are the box sets released for Doctor Who and Sherlock by the BBC. Not only do they offer audio description on the episodes themselves, but they also give you audio navigation for the menu system, which is fantastic. DVD menus can be a nightmare when you can’t see, especially if you want to select particular episodes or special features. I appreciate there must be technical challenges in incorporating a second menu system, but it’s well worth it, I think it works very well.

[Video shows the Doctor Who Series 9 Blu-Ray audio-described menus. The text is large, white and uppercase on a black background. The edge of the screen is framed by  a large white circle, with occasional balls of light along its edge.]

[Female Narrator] Doctor Who, The Complete Series 9 Blu-Ray Box Set, Disc 1

To select audio navigation, press Enter now.

To select an option, use the arrow keys, and then press Enter.

Main Menu. There are 5 options.

Play All, Episode Selection, Special Features, Audio Options, Subtitles.

Audio Menu. There are 5 options.

Turn 5.1 audio on.

Turn audio description on.

Turn commentary – Last Christmas – on.


Back to Main Menu.

[Video zooms in on the audio settings for my¬†Living With Aniridia¬†video, showing some of the music tracks in Youtube’s library that I could replace my audio with.]

So if audio description is available on all of these other platforms, it seems very strange that the boffins at Google haven’t managed to add it to Youtube yet. I know it would be a technical challenge, but it can’t be impossible. After all, they can already interfere with your audio by replacing it with a music track from their library if you ask them to.

[Video shows a scrolling screenshot of Youtube’s video suggestions on its home page.]

So it really is something they should look into, because audio description would make it much easier for blind and partially sighted people to access and enjoy the huge amount of content on the site.

[Video continues the scrolling screenshot, but turns blurry as the hashtag #AudioDescribeYT appears as a caption over the top.]

And if any of you watching this would like to help get the message out there, then please feel free to make your own videos or blog posts, or share and retweet content by others about the campaign, using the hashtag #AudioDescribeYT.¬†I’ve included links in the description to some other videos that people have made about the campaign, along with various websites and articles on the subject of audio description, so you can get other views and information about it.

[Video shows my blog address and Twitter name over a picture of ducks sitting on the river in the Olympic Park.]

But thank you for watching and listening to my video on the subject, I hope you found it interesting. Bye for now!

Author: Glen

Vsually impaired, with Aniridia & Nystagmus. I'm a fan of Doctor Who, classic sitcoms, Queen and 60s-80s rock & pop. I like to blog about my experiences as a disabled person, and about the things I enjoy in general.

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