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RE: Audio Descriptions for Talking Heads

From: David MacDonald <david100@sympatico.ca>
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2011 10:30:46 -0400
Message-ID: <BLU0-SMTP250203327D7524B30E3F4CFE520@phx.gbl>
To: "'Bailey, Bruce'" <Bailey@Access-Board.gov>
CC: "'Scott Hollier'" <Scott.Hollier@mediaaccess.org.au>, "'WCAG'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Sounds like a good sufficient technique suggestion, 

How about a general technique which I'll submit... something like this:

Gxx: Using a static text alternative to describe a "talking head" video.


The purpose of this technique is to provide an alternative to synchronized
media that has no time based important information contained in the video
portion of the media. Such is the case in a "talking head" video where a
person is talking in front of an unchanging background, such as a press
conference, company or Government announcement, etc... In this case there
are no "important visual details" which require Audio Description. A static
text alternative giving a general description of the context of the
environment and any opening/closing credits, and perhaps text at the bottom
of the video with the name of the speaker, that is not be heard in the
audio, but seen on the screen. 

Audio Descriptions are not necessary when there is one person speaking
against a static background, because there is no timed based visual
information in the video that is "important" to the understanding of the
content. The environment is static and therefore can be described in a non
multimedia static format such as alternative text that is programmatically
associated with the video. 

Example 1

A video of a CEO speaking to shareholders from his office has a title page
opening the video giving the date, and when the speaker begins, there is a
strip of text at the bottom of the video saying "John Doe, President of XYZ
Cooperation". There is a paragraph below the video which is associated with
the video file using aria-describedby which says: "July 22, 2011, John Doe,
President of XYZ cooperation, speaking from his office"

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of Bailey, Bruce
Sent: June-24-11 9:41 AM
To: David MacDonald
Cc: Scott Hollier; WCAG
Subject: RE: Audio Descriptions for Talking Heads

> So you are requiring Audio Description of a talking head... the
opening/closing credits, and the name and title of the person speaking?

First, just to be pedantic, I would recommend fastidiously avoiding
capitalizing the term "audio description" unless you are purposely
referring to DVDs and broadcast television where the descriptive
narration is on a secondary audio track.  Second, the "you are
requiring" phrasing of your question also makes me anxious as the Access
Board does not enforce 508.  Now that I have my disclaimers out of the
way, let me respond substantively!

Typically, a person sends me a URL and asks if I think the video
conforms to 508.  For talking head videos, often the only thing missing
is narration at the beginning and end.

> Why can't those be put in static text alternatives, given that they
are not time based (unless the speaker changes)? ...  but I think a
static alternative should be sufficient, no?

Yes, some agencies will choose to remediate existing content by adding
content to "a static alternative" (as you call it), usually a paragraph
which is already associated with the video.  I think one could make a
very credible case that this practice conforms to WCAG 2.0.  If so, we
probably need a Sufficient Technique to this effect.

> The problem is not the *amount* of AD required, if even one word is
required it's almost as hard as if there is a lot of it.

Understood.  Most often my advice is in the context of advising
government 508 coordinators what they should be telling their media
folks.  The media folks have no idea how to add Audio Descriptions (big
AD) but adding a voice over for the opening title they easily

> it is getting into a studio (or buying an expensive software package
that's the big investment)... even if it's just to announce a title...
it might be easier in the future

As is often the case, accessibility can be trivial when considered early
in the process, but difficult and expensive after the fact!
Received on Friday, 24 June 2011 14:31:42 UTC

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