The Enhancing Audio Description II project seeks to explore the potential of sound design practices and spatial audio to provide accessible film and television experiences for visually impaired audiences. It fuses audio technology and creativity to widen the notion of media accessibility and increase the quality and quantity of provision, providing cutting edge techniques to the UK cultural sector.

Binaural listening test room

Enhancing Audio Description II: implementing accessible, personalised and inclusive film and television experiences for visually impaired audiences, is a project that proposes a new paradigm in accessible experiences, in which there is not an overreliance on a narrator's spoken word, as in traditional Audio Description practices. Instead it utilises new accessibility features that include: the addition of sound effects, the spatialisation of dialogue and sounding objects, and first-person narration, to provide accessible experiences that are seamlessly integrated to the soundtrack of a film or television programme. These techniques are integrated into film and television workflows from the development phase up to final delivery.

The project builds up from previous research which demonstrated the success of these methods, and explores them even further, by concentrating on the conveyance of cinematographic elements through sound, the exploration of the intricacies of using first-person narration across different genres and different cast sizes, as well as exploring how spatialisation techniques can be adapted for multi-listener scenarios for a variety of loudspeaker formats. The exploration of these methods will be conducted with an end-user centred approach, in which visually impaired audiences are consulted from the design process up to delivery. Furthermore, the project explores the creation of guidelines that will allow the incorporation of these methods to professional broadcasting pipelines and film workflows, by collaborating with a Project Advisory Panel representative of the different roles in film and television as well as end users.

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A photo of a building at the University of York next to a large pond.

York Talks - Seeing With Our Ears

On 11 January 2017, at the York Talks – Research in the Spotlight event organised by the University of York, Mariana gave a presentation outlining our research progress. Find out more.

Marianna and Gavin presenting in front of an audience.

Disseminating the Project

I haven’t written a diary entry for a while and that’s mostly because I’ve been busy disseminating the Enhancing Audio Description project through talks in a series of events. Find out more.

Logo of Institute of Acoustics.

Reproduced Sound 2016

On 15 November 2016, Mariana gave a presentation title Sound Design, Spatialisation and Accessibility in Film and Television at the Reproduced Sound 2016 – Sound with Pictures - Time is of Essence Conference. The event was held in Holiday Inn, Southampton. Find out more.

An old, black and white photo of an elderly lady reading on a sofa while being recorded with a camera crew.

Language Transfer in Audiovisual Media Conference, Berlin

On 3 November 2016, Mariana gave a presentation at the 11th International Conference on Language Transfer in Audiovisual Media, Berlin. The title of the presentation was Towards a Framework for Enhanced Audio Description Find out more.

Logo of Camsight.

Jerry and Warren from CamSight

Some thoughts on our project from our advisory panel members, Jerry and Warren from Cam Sight, Cambridge. Find out more.

A photo of Cambridge Festival of Ideas flags on a wall.

Cambridge Festival of Ideas

On 29 October 2016, at the Anglia Ruskin University, Mariana presented the project at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. The presentation was titled Using Sound Design to Foster Inclusivity. Find out more.

A photo of Mariana standing.

AD, the Art of Access, London

On 21 October, the Marian gave a presentation at the Audio Description - the Art of Access Conference, in the Young Vic Theatre, London in Panel 2, The Aesthetics of Access. The presentation's title was Integrating Sound Design to Audio Description. Find out more.

A photo of Krisztian playing audio games on a mobile device with the game logos behind him.

More on Audio Games

Further to our previous blog post on Audio Games and Accessibility published last month, we have worked on preparing a video that describes in detail the different sound design methods used in the audio games Papa Sangre, The Nightjar and A Blind Legend. Find out more.

A diagram illustrating which country visits on the website originate from.

Celebrating 6 months of EAD

Since we launched our project in April 2016 we have had over 13,000 visits to this website from 31 countries, most from the UK and the US. 65% of our visitors found this website through referrals on social media, Twitter and Facebook, 23% by direct linking and 21% with organic searches for instance by using search engines like google.com with keywords ‘enhancing audio description’ or ‘audio description project’. We are thrilled that the interest in our project is growing and we hope to continue raising awareness on Audio Description and inclusivity in the coming months. Thanks!