As part of a massive overhaul of accessibility regulations in the UK, Ofcom has called for something radical. In December 2018, the media regulator suggested that Video-On-Demand (VOD) providers should be obliged to provide audio description for 10% of their content catalogues.

According to Ofcom, the introduction of accessibility features to on-demand services has been too slow – and requires a more deadline-driven approach if it’s to progress.

If adopted by the UK government, Ofcom’s recommendations would go some way to bringing on-demand services in line with broadcast TV.

It has been suggested that VOD providers would need to be fully compliant of new rules within four years of them coming into force, with an interim two-year target to add audio description to 5% of their content catalogues.

A picture of a TV with the words "What is audio description?"

Audio description defined

For those who are blind and visually impaired, audio description takes the details which consumers with perfect vision can see and makes them accessible to everyone. Defined as the verbal depiction of key visual elements in media and live production, audio description reveals key information to viewers who are either blind and partially sighted – and enhances their overall entertainment experience.

Why it’s important

According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), 250 start to lose their sight every day in the UK. In 2015, more than two million people in the UK were living with sight loss that was severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives – such as to prevent them from watching their favourite shows.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is blind or partially sighted; imagine trying to watch a film or programme, but not being able to see it. 

Without the assistance audio description provides, people who are blind or partially sighted find it extremely difficult to derive the same level of satisfaction from the stuff they watch.

And it’s for that reason that a law has been introduced to make video content more accessible for the blind and partially sighted. The Digital Economy Act (2017) requires VOD providers to add some level of audio description to their content.

Since its introduction, the number of audio-described programmes on catch-up TV has been rising slowly. But steps are currently being taken by Ofcom and the RNIB to speed up the progress.

What it entails

We send our videos to an expert audio describer, who then provides us with a transcreated script. The script, which contains details of on-screen visuals, is then sent to a second describer to edit.

Once these first few steps are completed, our clients are then sent the edited transcript to suggest possible changes and approve its contents. From thereon in, we organise and record the voice over.

Here at VoiceBox, we guarantee the voice over artist chosen possesses a totally different vocal quality from those heard in the original video.

Why it should be used

When it comes to multimedia, publishers should always remind themselves that not only does audio description make content more accessible for a wider audience, but it also makes the world of entertainment more equal. That alone is reason enough to use it.

Have a new video project on the horizon? Want it to be seen by as many people as possible, all around the world? Then get in touch with us today. Phone us on 01792 450979 or click the button below…

Sim Johnston