Making Accessible Media: Audio Description Fundamentals


Brett Oppegaard
Associate Professor School of Communications; University of Hawaii


Online Courses

Making Accessible Media: Audio Description Fundamentals

Asynchronous course

Watch the recordings of the class sessions at a time convenient for you, and complete the assignment by the time determined by the instructor.

7 June to 12 July 2021 (Mondays)


If you aren’t making your media accessible (on your websites, mobile apps, brochures, signs, exhibits, etc.), you are excluding people, a lot of people. Just in the U.S., for example, there are about 20 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired. They cannot see well enough to get information from photographs, illustrations, charts, or maps. So if you are trying to communicate with them via those types of media alone, it’s not working … at all. An efficient and effective solution is Audio Description, which is recommended by the American Council of the Blind and many similar associations around the world. Audio Description is the remediation of visual media into audible media, primarily for the inclusion of people who are blind or visually impaired. This translation process is the focus of this Making Accessible Media course.

This six-session asynchronous and online course will teach you about Audio Description as a field of study, as a collection of related genres (such as portrait description, artifact description, map description, etc.), and help you to be trained and self-sufficient on the open-access, online, and award-winning UniDescription toolkit, which will allow you to immediately and anytime thereafter create and share your Audio Description in accessible formats, including text, HTML, and machine-voiced Mp3.

The course will have five weekly checkpoints with the instructor, in which you write Audio Description about a provided piece of visual media, and then get feedback on your description from your instructor and participating classmates.

In the course, you will learn:

• Understand how people who are blind or visually impaired use (or why they don’t use) your content now, through a content analysis
• Understand the role of Audio Description in making media accessible, for people who are blind or visually impaired but also for other users, such as people who are print dyslexic or audio-oriented learners
• Find, access, and understand best practices in the field from a variety of authoritative sources, i.e. The American Council of the Blind
• Create and manage an Audio Description project through the open-access UniDescription project,
• Create a coherent and comprehensive plan to audio describe the components of your project
• Create the necessary Audio Description you need to make your project accessible to the public
• Share your accessible media with the public for immediate feedback from real audiences in real scenarios

Intended audience: Content creators working in digital media of all types, who would like to make their content more accessible, especially for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Session 1: Introducing Audio Description

Session 2: Using the open-access UniDescription toolkit

Session 3:  Describing People

Session 4:  Describing Things

Session 5: Describing Places

Session 6: Putting it all together for the public


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