[Athen] correct terminology -- audio description or video description

steve.noble at louisville.edu steve.noble at louisville.edu
Wed May 3 09:07:10 PDT 2017

My recollection of the history is that "audio description" was indeed the original terminology, but it was initially used only at live in-person events, like a play where the description was broadcast over headphones provided to blind patrons attending the event. When the same concept was later applied to TV programming, the term for that usage was changed to "video description" to make a distinction. Thus, both terms have stuck with us over the years.

--Steve Noble
steve.noble at louisville.edu

From: athen-list [athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] on behalf of Sheryl E. Burgstahler [sherylb at uw.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, May 03, 2017 10:54 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: Re: [Athen] correct terminology -- audio description or video description

Is “video description” completely accurate?

First of all, what we are talking about is audio; the purpose of the audio is to describe content presented visually in a video presentation. This description leads me to prefer “audio description."

(grin) However, I can argue pros and cons for each terminology!!! As you can tell I have given this topic way to much attention…I know, get a life, Sheryl.


On May 3, 2017, at 7:02 AM, Bourne, Sarah (MASSIT) <sarah.bourne at mass.gov<mailto:sarah.bourne at mass.gov>> wrote:

Besides liking to align with the federal government terminology, I prefer "video description" because it refers to *what* is being described. "Audio description" refers to the format that description is being provided in, which leaves hanging the question of what I should call a text version of that description when needed by, for instance, someone who is deaf/blind.

Sarah E. Bourne
Director of IT Accessibility, MassIT
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
1 Ashburton Pl. rm 811 Boston MA 02108
sarah.bourne at mass.gov<mailto:sarah.bourne at mass.gov>

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