UniDescription
Descriptathon

The Descriptathon Approach

A workshop that combines a hackathon, gamification studies, software training, Audio Description, and university-level pedagogy

What is a Descriptathon?

  • A gamified way to learn about Audio Description: What is Audio Description? Who uses it, and how? Why is it so important? How does it differ from other types of writing and communication? What are the best practices and top pro secrets? We use conference calls plus online tools and resources to create an engaging (and Covid-19 safe) learning environment that incorporates gameplay to investigate ideas about media accessibility, especially for people who are blind, deafblind, and low-vision.
  • A fun way to practice Audio Description: We think people learn best – no matter what the topic – when they are motivated by interactions with others and having a good time in a social setting, even if that setting is virtual. Our training is tourney-style, featuring teams and light-hearted competitions, and including Hawaii-oriented prizes.
  • An efficient way to produce Audio Description: We don't just practice these Audio Description skills in cloistered safe spaces. We also make Audio Description for real contexts during this process, openly testing our ideas in public labs all over the country (and the world). In other words, we learn about and practice Audio Description in ways that make the world more accessible at the same time.

Want to take part in a Descriptathon? The UniDescription Project is a grant-funded research initiative, so there is no direct cost to the participants (other than their time engaged in the related activities). When we gather enough grant funds to support a Descriptathon, we put one on (and invite interested parties). If you want to get involved, either as a Descriptathon participant or as a funder, send an email of interest to the project's principal investigator, Brett Oppegaard, at the brett.oppegaard@hawaii.edu email.

A collection of Hawaii-themed prizes given out in Descriptathon 5 (Aug. 27-29, 2019) are shown, amassed on a window ledge, with tropical foilage outside of the window and in the background. At the forefront of this collection is a coconut painted with two words: 1. ALOHA (in multiple colors; the A is yellow, the L is orange, the O is a red hibiscus bloom, the H is light blue, and the final A is Peach, all in capital letters). And, 2. HAWAII, also in all caps, but this word only is in red, and it is centered and right below the
A collection of Hawaii-themed prizes given out in Descriptathon 5 (Aug. 27-29, 2019) are shown, amassed on a window ledge, with tropical foilage outside of the window and in the background.

Academic Papers

Inclusive Digital Interactives (2020) logo
Inclusive Digital Interactives (2020)

Oppegaard, B. (2020). Unseeing solutions: From failures to feats through increasingly inclusive design. In J. Majewski, R. Marquis, N. Proctor, & B. Ziebarth (Eds.), Inclusive digital interactives: Best practices, innovative experiments, and questions for research. Washington, D.C.: Access Smithsonian, The Institute for Human Centered Design, & Museweb. URL: https://access.si.edu/sites/default/files/inclusive-digital-interactives-best-practices-research.pdf

Technical Communication (2020) logo
Technical Communication (2020)

Conway, M., Oppegaard, B., & Hayes, T. (2020). Audio description: Making useful maps for blind and visually impaired people. Technical Communication, 67(2), 68-85. URL: https://www.stc.org/techcomm/2020/04/28/audio-description-making-useful-maps-for-blind-and-visually-impaired-people/.

Academic Posters

Graphic of the  poster
SIGDOC - Special Interest Group (SIG) on Design of Communication (DOC)

"From seeing to hearing: Lessons learned from a research-based design project focused upon audio description, print-to-acoustic remediation, and mobile-app delivery" research poster presented by Brett Oppegaard at the annual Association for Computer Machinery SIG Design of Communication (SIGDOC), held in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S., in 2016.

Graphic of the  poster
SIGDOC - Special Interest Group (SIG) on Design of Communication (DOC)

"To Bracket or Not Bracket: Experiments in Gamification in the Wilds of Technical Communication" research poster presented by Brett Oppegaard at the annual Association for Computer Machinery SIG Design of Communication (SIGDOC), held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2017.

Academic Presentations

Oppegaard, B., Conway, M., & Conway, T. (2017, August 11-13). To Bracket or Not Bracket: Experiments in Gamification in the Wilds of Technical Communication. [Poster presentation]. The Association for Computer Machinery Special Interest Group on Design of Communication, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Oppegaard, B. (2017, May 25-29). Insider Positionality: Creating Tools and Translations to Investigate Audio Description. [Paper presentation]. International Communication Association Conference, San Diego, CA, United States.


Oppegaard, B. (2016, September 23-24). From seeing to hearing: Research-based design experimentation in development of open-source web and mobile tools for print-to-acoustic remediation. The Association for Computer Machinery SIG Design of Communication Conference, Silver Spring, MD, United States.


Read more Audio Description research

Besides the scholarship we produce, we also curate in our UniD Library what we consider to be the most important research and related texts in this field of study

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