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Re: Audio description in live broadcasts

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2001 08:13:43 -0400 (EDT)
To: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, <jensutton@earthlink.net>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0107050759410.19230-100000@tux.w3.org>

in the original discussion on the topic it was pointed out that radio
commentary does serve as description. Television commentary, in many cases,
does not serve as description because it relies on the visual track of the
medium to carry some information.

However I am very familiar with cricket, and there I have heard TV
commentators read out and interpret the full and complete contents of charts,
tables and graphs very often. Another example is http://www.cricinfo.com
which provides live textual commentary of many cricket matches, both
international and major domestic competitions, as well as providing links to
other versions such as visual, where available.

While cricket, or sports in general, is obviously a different case to
describing a physics experiment, I maintain that there are people out there
with the appropriate skills. In addition the public - perhaps only the
cricket-listening public, (around 1 billion people mostly from India,
Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Caribbean, the UK, Australia, New
Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe) but I think more broadly than that -
already has exposure to something they can use to understand the problem.


Charles McCathieNevile

On Thu, 5 Jul 2001, Joe Clark wrote:

  >>The real challenge to 508-compliant multimedia is going to be
  >>incorporating audio descriptions in live broadcasts. I'd love to
  >>see an example of that, if it's out there.
  >Now, I suppose that I can see occasions where this *could* be a
  >challenge. However, it seems to me that most live broadcasts can be
  >adequately audio-described by the presenters themselves.

  No, *no*, *NO*. Commentary and audio description are manifestly not
  the same or interchangeable and the former cannot stand in for the


  >For example, a presenter should always verbalize the contents of a
  >chart or graph to which he/she is pointing.

  Like we've ever, even once in our lives, witnessed a television
  presenter read out *and interpret for blind viewers* the full and
  complete contents of a chart or graph.

  >So, in short, perhaps this is more of a challenge to educate trainers about
  >why best practice is important for everyone, rather than an issue of
  >technological barriers and challenges.

  That remark sounds like one of those superficial magazine articles
  discussing "universal" design, which invariably focuses on one or two
  products out of the tens of thousands available in a typical mall. So
  much for universality.

  Commentators will never provide what is actually needed for audio
  description, and this is one of those cases where the bromide that
  "universal" design *is great for everyone!* does not apply.

  We have *actual experience* of live audio description and it behooves
  critics who think A.D. is an unnecessary frill to learn a bit before
  going off half-cocked.

Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI    fax: +1 617 258 5999
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Thursday, 5 July 2001 08:13:45 UTC

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