Enhancing Audio Description

An audience watching a female speaker on-stage

Enhancing Audio Description (or Enhancing AD) is a project that seeks to explore how sound design techniques can be used to rethink accessibility to film and television for visually impaired audiences.

By focusing on new sound design techniques and the creative use of surround sound rendering, interactive media systems and first person narration, the project could create a new standard for the creative filmmaking process and eventually both sighted and visually impaired audiences will enjoy the same soundtrack.

Sound effects are used both to represent actions and as 'soundmarks' to help the listeners identify the different spaces in the narrative. Artificial reverberation is employed to provide each space with a characteristic sound, and surround sound is used to suggest the layout of the spaces as well as indicate the movement of the characters.

The project stems from the idea that accessibility should not be an after-thought, it should instead be an intrinsic part of the creative workflows involved in film and TV productions. With this idea in mind we will be collaborating with a Project Advisory Panel that includes representatives from both the film/television industry and accessibility sector.

With funding support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, we are able to collaborate with the University of York in delivering this project.

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Principal investigator Mariana Lopez is a former Research Fellow at StoryLab and Lecturer in Sound Production and Post-Production at University of York and co-investigator, Gavin Kearney, is Lecturer in Audio and Music Technology at University of York. The project is additionally supported by Krisztian Hofstadter, Lewis Thresh and intern, Morgan Fresh. Visit the website: www.enhancingaudiodescription.com.