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 collage with Krisztian playing audio games.

On Audio Games and Accessibility

As part of our research on the use of sound design to make films and TV programmes inclusive, we have been looking into the field of Audio Games, that is, games in which audio is the main way of communication and entertainment and which can be played regardless of one’s sight condition. Find out more.

A photo of Mariana presenting.

York Festival of Ideas

We have uploaded our first podcast which contains audio extracts from Mariana’s talk at York Festival of Ideas on June 13 2016. Find out more.

A photo of Marina addressing a focus group in a screening room.

Survey and Focus Groups

As part of the first phase of Enhancing Audio Description we conducted an online/telephone survey as well as focus groups on current accessibility measures and the future of Audio Description. Find out more.

A photo of the Theatre, Film and Television Department at the University of York.

University of York's TFTV

On June 13 2016, Mariana and Gavin presented the project at the University of York's Department of Theatre, Film and Television. The presentation was titled Seeing with your Ears - Film and Television for Visually Impaired Audiences. Find out more.

A young girl handing out flyers for the exhibition.

Dialogue Beyond Sight Exhibition

On the 13 July we traveled to London’s OXO Gallery to attend the first day of the Dialogue Beyond Sight (DBS) event. DBS is a multi-sensory exhibition featuring works by visually impaired artists and performers. Find out more.

The logo of AES.

2018 AES Milan 2018

At the 144th Audio Engineering Conference held between 23rd-26th May 2018, Mariana and Gavin presented a tutorial titled From Seeing to Hearing - Sound Design and Spatialization for Visually Impaired Film Audiences. Find out more.

The logo of BBC Radio 4.

Press Publication

On 24 February 2015, BBC Radio 4 interviewed Mariana in their programme titled Audio in Films; ‘Visual Tinnitus’ online. Find out more.

The logo of RNIB Connect Radio.

Press Publication

On 04 February 2015, Insight Radio, the radio station of RNIB, in its Afternoon Edition introduced our project to their audience.

BBC News Tech logo.

Press Publication

On 01 January 2015, BBC News Technology published an article featuring our project. Find out more.