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

Jennifer Sutton jsuttondc at gmail.com
Thu May 4 09:18:37 PDT 2017


I never dreamed my question would generate so much traffic or controversy.

But so that everyone has even more of the picture (since I do, due to
the people I bcc-ed who have even more history in the field than I
suspect most on this list do) . . .

This has been basically a political issue in the U.S. for decades, and
when I use the word "political," I mean in terms of debates, rather than
Federal government. To a degree, it's become an issue of branding --
somewhat dependent upon the source(s) of the product(s) you choose.

As I see it, the U.S. Federal government has been pretty clear in its
preference for video description.

If I were folks who received Federal funding for projects, I might want
to consider whether that might matter in whatever work you're doing,
even beyond the legal context when, I believe, using the correct term
would matter for legal accuracy.

In my particular case, when I am writing about laws, I will say "video
description" when they do, otherwise sometimes called audio
description," etc. But most other references will be left as they are,
i.e. "audio description," since not only is that my employer's
preference, but also because there are restrictions in the system that
would make it difficult to change.

I would also suggest that reliance on WCAG to guide one, in this
particular matter, might not actually be ideal. While it is only a note,
and as I understand it, there may be a version 2 of it at some point,
the reference that demonstrates a close focus in this area by WAI is
this one:

Media Accessibility User Requirements


This group definitely wrestled with terminology, as I understand it.

Hope this reference proves helpful. I specifically asked someone who'd
worked on it for their thoughts as I suspect they focused a lot more
closely on it than those working on WCAG have had time to do. As a side
note, it will also be interesting to see whether this might be revisited
in WCAG 2.1, since it is well underway. As a result of my extensive
education on this subject, I will sure be on the lookout for both
further work on the "MAUR" and potential updates to WCAG 2.1.

I certainly got far more info and opinions than I imagined I would.
Thanks to all of you for your passion and knowledge.

Not that my personal opinion ever mattered because I was seeking
official guidance, but I would say that audio description sounds very
old-fashioned to me and only makes sense in the context of live

I think it all depends on who you listen to (in person, or where your
videos with the technology come from), how long you've been around (or
how long your "go to" references have been), in what contexts you've
been working (advocacy, legislation, not to mention Internationally), etc.

Descriptive narration was, indeed, floated at one time, but it never
caught on.

In terms of Netflix or iTunes . . . I guess I wouldn't consider them
particular authorities/informed by all the history I sure now have.
Somehow, I doubt they gave much thought to what they chose to call what
they offered; I suspect they were mostly concerned with getting the
content since there was such an outcry for it. But that's simply my
personal opinion. I'm not planning to check with them. :)

From an individual perspective, as someone who actually needs this
content, I wish folks would spend less time debating the term and more
time advocating for and creating the content itself. On this list, we
have seen only a micro-representation of the hours and hours of
meetings/discussions, over the decades.

Now, much to my pleasure, I'm moving on to other topics, and I wish you
all a pleasant day. Thanks again to everyone for their time and thoughts.



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