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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We are delighted to announce that our project will be supporting a number of internships throughout the course of the 4 year project. The initial two internships are now being advertised to students across the University of York and are currently open for applications! Find out more.

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York Festival of Ideas 2022

On 15 June 2022, between 6pm to 7pm, Mariana and Gavin presented our work at the York Festival of Ideas at the University of York. Find out more.

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Leeds School of Arts

On 27 April 2022, Mariana gave a talk titled Enhanced Audio Description - Sound, Design, Creativity and Integrated Access at the Leeds School of Arts, now archived on YouTube. Find out more.

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Edinburgh Napier University

Mariana gave a guest lecture for Edinburgh Napier University in March titled Enhanced Audio Description - Creative Accessibility through Sound Design.

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Press Publication

On 29 March 2022, Fern Lulham discussed our project on BBC Radio 4 on the In Touch programme. The programme also inserted sections of the interview she did with Mariana for Digital Planet last November and an extract from Pearl. Find out more.

A frame from the movie Shelf Life.

Shelf Life

In this post, you can watch our short film Shelf Life and read about why we made it. Find out more.

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Accessibility Camp 2022

On 22 February 2022, Mariana gave a talk titled 'Accessibility through Sound Design; an introduction to Enhanced Audio Description' at the Perth Web Accessibility Camp 2022 event. Find out more.

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Press Publication

On 08 February 2022, the interview Mariana recently did for BBC World Service's Digital Planet radio show was broadcast. The interview starts 21 minutes in. Find out more.

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Pearl is a short film (Palumbo, 2014) whose soundtrack was redesigned as part of our project in 2016. The soundtrack uses the EAD principles to provide an accessible experience for visually impaired audiences, that is based on creative sound design practices, including binaural audio and first person narration. Find out more.