A workshop that combines a hackathon, gamification studies, software training, Audio Description, and university-level pedagogy
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). That typically happens once or twice a year.
To sponsor a Descriptathon, we ask grant funders to provide $6,250 to support each team. Funders can support an individual team (or more). For example, at $25,000, a sponsor can support four teams; for $50,000, a sponsor can support eight teams; and so on. Each team usually has 5 to 10 people. Those teams include staff from the organizations we are working with — such as parks, museums, public attractions of any sort — and usually a couple of people who are DeafBlind, or blind, or who have low vision, and an external volunteer who is sighted and engaged in the description process. Throughout our time together we encourage active collaboration and co-creation of description.
If you don't have a sponsor, we also include teams from public places that are not able to directly contribute grant funds, but who eagerly want to participate. Our general Descriptathon funding model is to create openings at a 3:1 ratio, meaning, for example, once we have grant support for 12 teams, we host a 16-team Descriptathon that includes four teams from our open waiting list (if your site wants to get a team on that waiting list, just let us know via this email).
Grant funds not only support those additional teams, they also provide the core means for a variety of related research-and-development activities. These funds, for example, cover stipends for people who are DeafBlind, blind, or who have low-vision when they conduct extracurricular reviewing and judging tasks. They cover the costs of student research assistants who help with the project year-round; faculty contributors working during summers; and consultants from across disciplines. They help to cover basic costs of research, development, and dissemination. These grant funds are the reason we can offer all our software in open-source, open-access formats, which we maintain, refine, and update several times a year, at no cost to the producers and consumers of Audio Description. So, thank you, again, grant funders, including the U.S. National Park Service, Google, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts!
If you would like to get involved in this project, either as a Descriptathon participant or as a funder, send an email of interest to the project's principal investigator, Brett Oppegaard, at this email.And, on the individual level, here are some of the learner roles you can take in this project:
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
"Descriptathon Teams and Tourneys: Let the Games Commence," research poster presented by Brett Oppegaard at the annual Committee on Computers in Composition and Communication (CCCCs) Digital Praxis Poster Sessions, held online, on April 9, 2021.
"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.
"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.
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