Audio (Video) Descriptions: A social business secret weapon
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  social_business larry_goldberg accessibility video audio
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Odds are good that video has become a key component of your marketing arsenal — and for good reason. Consider:
So how do you maximize the value of video and other rich Internet content to get the biggest bang for your marketing buck? Try taking your search engine optimization (SEO) to the next level with the addition of two often overlooked video techniques: captioning and audio description (also known as video description or descriptive narration).
Closed captions, which most of us have seen on televisions in noisy airports, restaurants and sports bars, are the first and most familiar option. Since IBM accessibility thought leader, Holly Nielsen, provides a great overview of captioning benefits in her two-part post series, “Video captioning: Win/Win for accessibility and search engine optimization (SEO)”, I’ll focus on the second, lesser known, secret weapon for video optimization: audio descriptions.
Audio descriptions provide a carefully written narrative of nonverbal (visual) video content, including background, setting, and characters’ actions, gestures and facial expressions. It is traditionally used as a mechanism to make video and other visual media content accessible to people who are blind or have low vision.
If you’ve never heard of audio descriptions for video, you’re not alone. Of the billions of full-length movies, television shows and videos currently available online, only a handful are audio described. For 285+ million people worldwide who have visual impairments, that’s a frustrating statistic. Imagine watching a movie without the benefit of knowing what’s happening before, during, and after the dialogue occurs.
Take, for example, the official online trailer for one of this summer’s biggest box office hits, The Amazing Spiderman. Over the course of the 2 minute, 51 second video only about 20 seconds contain actual dialogue. The rest is comprised of superhero action scenes. For people who are blind or have low vision, more than 85 percent of that inaccessible movie trailer is of very little use. Here’s an audio described clip of the Haunted House ride at Disney World to give you an idea of what audio descriptions add to a video:
Interesting isn’t it? Like
captions, audio descriptions provide an extra layer of content that can
be indexed by search engines and leveraged to deliver better results for
unique user video searches.
However, the type of content is vastly different. While captions allow search engines to access dialogue alone, audio descriptions can provide search engine access to everything else - all the images, actions and other visual content. IBM provides a great example of how audio descriptions can be effectively applied to enterprise social marketing content, with its 60-second social video on the accessibility of its Connections 3.01 product.
If you’re still on the fence, here are four more reasons to consider using audio descriptions:
And if the Federal government is a client of yours, since the year 2000 Section 508 procurement rules have required captions and descriptions on web-based media.
As with many accessibility innovations, there are those who will continue to view audio described media content a ‘nice to have’ optional technology. Savvy chief marketing officers will see something altogether different: the opportunity to create more dynamic, personalized and inclusive customer experiences.
Larry Goldberg is the director of the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at Boston pubcaster WGBH (NCAM for short). NCAM focuses on research and development, public policy initiatives and strategic corporate and governmental partnerships – all with the mission of finding ways to assure that people with disabilities have equal access to media and technology in their homes, schools, workplaces and communities. Larry's online locations are ncam.wgbh.org, Facebook: Media Access Group at WGBH and Twitter: @AccessWGBH