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RE: Audio description (was: New rewrite of Guideline 1.1 [action item])

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 12:36:53 -0500
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A03317D69@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Joe Clark" <joeclark@joeclark.org>, "WAI-GL" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

I wrote:
<blockquote>
... people who are blind do indeed enjoy films and
> television shows and theatrical performances relying exclusively on 
> audio description as an equivalent alternative.
</blockquote>

Joe Clark responded:
<q>That is false. Listeners of audio description *also hear the main
audio*.</q>
To which I reply:
True! And very helpful.  thank you.
But then Joe goes on:
<blockquote>
John, please, give it up. I've listened to hundreds of hours of
described television and film, I've written description scripts, and
I've sat in on, and actually coproduced, audio-descriptionrecording
sessions. Audio descriptions, like captions, are *additions* and not
*alternatives*.
</blockquote>

To which I say:
Interesting again. But not quite right.  It occurs to me that audio
descriptions are *both* "additions" *and* "alternatives."  For the
person who can see the video (and certainly for the people who write and
record the audio description scripts, the audio description is an
addition to the material that's already there. But to the person who
depends upon the audio description because she or he can't see the
video, the audio description *is* an alternative . 

After all, we wouldn't say that the video track was an addition to the
audio, because the two go together by design; by the same token, audio
description is designed to be heard as an integral part of the
multimedia presentation.

I think this exchange points to an interesting problem about point of
view.  From the point of view of developers, designers, and content
providers, many of the things WCAG requires are *additions* (alt text is
provided in addition to the image, etc.). But the users who depend on
these things don't experience them as additions; users experience these
things *as* the content. A user who can't see images has *no way* to
judge whether the alt text for a given image is really "equivalent" or
not, because that user can't perform the necessary comparison. Someone
who can't hear audio has no way to judge the fidelity of a text
transcript. Etc.

John

"Good design is accessible design." 
Please note our new name and URL!
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/


 



-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Joe Clark
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 12:08 pm
To: WAI-GL
Subject: RE: Audio description (was: New rewrite of Guideline 1.1
[action item])



> It is true that "audio description is not a text alternative."

It is not *any* kind of "alternative." It is not a *substitute* for 
something else. You cannot *swap in* audio description the way you can 
swap in alt text.

> The "text alternative" is one type of "equivalent alternative." Audio 
> description is an "equivalent alternative" for the video portion of 
> multimedia content.

No, it is not.

> And people who are blind do indeed enjoy films and
> television shows and theatrical performances relying exclusively on 
> audio description as an equivalent alternative.

That is false. Listeners of audio description *also hear the main
audio*.

John, please, give it up. I've listened to hundreds of hours of
described television and film, I've written description scripts, and
I've sat in on, and actually coproduced, audio-descriptionrecording
sessions. Audio descriptions, like captions, are *additions* and not
*alternatives*.

-- 

    Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org
    Accessibility <http://joeclark.org/access/>
    Expect criticism if you top-post
Received on Tuesday, 22 June 2004 13:36:54 GMT

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