UniDescription

Researching the 3Ds of Audio Description:

We study descriptions, description tools, and Descriptathons – not necessarily in that order

What can the UniD project do for you?

  • Audio Description (Visual-to-Audio Translation): If you want something to be heard that otherwise only can be seen (such as a photograph, a painting, a poster, a statue, a map, etc.), UniD can help you to learn how to do it and also give you the open-access tools to produce and share your work.
  • Audio Description Training: You can learn how to audio describe here. Whether you need the support of a template, as a way to get started, or an overview of Audio Description genres, or a style guide, or best practices, or any other number of helpful learning resources, UniD provides open-access online training and resource lists.
  • Scholarly Resources: This is the place to deeply dive into Audio Description's empirical research, scholarly documents, and sets of laws and standards. As a hub of information, UniD acts as a public library of key resources.
  • Project Management Tools: If you need a way to manage and organize your Audio Description – by projects, by themes, by locations, etc. – UniD is designed for (and with) people who are blind or visually impaired to precisely meet low-vision needs in organizational contexts.
  • Community Engagement: Don't just build it, and hope "they" will come. UniD can help connect you and your resource with communities of people who are blind, low-vision, or deafblind. Making your media accessible really is just the beginning of building relationships within these communities, which also include family and friends. Audio Description is the first step to show you care.

Are you interested in making the world a more-accessible place? The UniDescription Project is a grant-funded research initiative based at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Our research team is led by Dr. Brett Oppegaard, a faculty member in the College of Social Sciences, who has been collaborating with colleagues in the UH Center on Disability Studies (and elsewhere). We primarily study Audio Description, which involves translating visual media into audible media. Our big-picture goal is simple and straightforward (and exceptionally ambitious, of course, but why not try to do something impactful, like):

Audio Describe the World!

During their fall 2016 visit to the Lincoln Memorial, Sushil Adhikari, from Nepal (right), and Nang Attal, from Afghanistan, discovered there was no audio description available at the site. So, Attal read the wall text to Adhikari and did his best to describe the surroundings. The UniD Project is intended to help visitors, like Adhikari, who are blind or visually impaired, have equivalent experiences, vetted by park staff, which allow more people to participate fully in important societal and cultural discussions.
During their fall 2016 visit to the Lincoln Memorial, Sushil Adhikari, from Nepal (right), and Nang Attal, from Afghanistan, discovered there was no Audio Description available at the site. So, Attal read the wall text to Adhikari and did his best to describe the surroundings, illustrating a latent need for Audio Description at this precious public resource. The two visitors to Washington, D.C., attended the same conference but did not know each other before this trip. They quickly had become friends, though, and decided to visit the Lincoln Memorial on this evening. In this image, the two are in silhouette, standing next to each other at the base of the statue. The scene is mostly dark, except for Lincoln's illuminated and oversized figure, sitting in a chair, as he stares straight ahead and out toward the National Mall's Reflecting Pond. Adhikari and Attal are on Lincoln's right side, closest to his right hand, as his fingers drape over the arm of his chair. Lincoln's left hand is balled into a fist. Attal is looking up at the statue and describing it. Adhikari, with his cane in his right hand, is listening carefully to Attal and his descriptions. The UniD Project is intended to help visitors, like Adhikari, who are blind or visually impaired, have equivalent experiences to anyone else in this place. The UniD-supported descriptions, vetted by park staff, allow more people to participate fully in important societal and cultural discussions, including people who are blind, deafblind, or low-vision. As part of this project's Descriptathon 6, the UniD team is working with the Lincoln Memorial this fall (2020) to audio describe this iconic memorial as well as a dozen other NPS sites around the Washington, D.C., area. When those are complete, they will be uploaded to the free UniD app.

We Get Results

100+

National Park Service sites using UniD

30+

U.S. states, where UniD is used

20+

Peer-reviewed papers, posters, and presentations on this project

$600K+

In federal and corporate grant support

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Funded by research grants, UniD is open-access (no cost to users), open-source (we share our code), and ready to serve

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