UniDescription
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A Place for Learning About Audio Description

You want to know about it? We want to teach it here.

Key Terms: What are the specialized terms scholars use when we discuss Audio Description?

Interdisciplinary researchers studying Audio Description have chosen a particular vocabulary to describe what they do and how they do it. Here are some of the most-common (yet most-opaque) terms in the field: 

If we are going to focus on this research topic, then we should define it well. Here are various academic definitions:

  • "a description of visual information delivered via an audio channel ... it can be said that whereas subtitles improve media accessibility by letting audiences read what they cannot hear, audio description lets audiences hear an account of what they cannot see"
    – Salway, A. (2007). A corpus-based analysis of audio description. In Cintas, J.D., Orero, P., & Remael, A. (Eds.), Media for all: Subtitling for the deaf, audio description and sign language (pp. 151–174). New York, NY: Rodolphi. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789401209564_012

  • "can refer to both product and process"
    – Szarkowska, Agnieska (2011). “Text-to-speech audio description: Towards wider availability of AD.” The Journal of Specialised Translation 15, 142-162. URL: https://www.jostrans.org/issue15/art_szarkowska.pdf

  • "a creative writing modality to make audiovisual content accessible for all"
    – Matamala, A., & Orero, P. (2013). Standardising audio description. Italian Journal of Special Education for Inclusion, 1(1), 149-155. URL: https://ojs.pensamultimedia.it/index.php/sipes/article/view/328

  • "Traditional AD is typified by five characteristics: it is exclusive; neutral; non-auteur; third-party and post hoc."
    – Fryer, L. (2018). The independent audio describer is dead: Long live audio description!. Journal of Audiovisual Translation, 1(1), 170-186. URL: http://www.jatjournal.org/index.php/jat/article/view/52

  • "It’s an artistic process that needs to be interrogated.”
    – Cavallo, A., & Fryer, L. (2018). Integrated access inquiry 2017-18 report. URL: https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/publication/1582552/1

Audio Description researchers to date have spent most of their time focused on what Sabine Braun (2007) called "dynamic" description, or description related to ephemeral or moving imagery, such as what is produced for television programs, films, theatrical performances, and opera. 

The origins of American Audio Description research appeared in the 1970s, around the West Coast-focus of Gregory Frazier on television and film description. In the 1980s, inspired by Frazier's work, the East Coast-focus emerged around live events, such as theater and opera, led by Margaret Pfanstiehl and her organization The Washington Ear.

The UniDescription Project can be useful for those purposes, based on transcendent practices across all genres of Audio Description, but its focus primarily is on what we call "static" media description, or description of visual media that is fixed in a certain temporal state, such as photographs, illustrations, and maps.

Fryer (2018) identifies five core characteristics of traditional Audio Description: It is exclusive;  neutral;  non-auteur;  third-party; and post-hoc. She also notes how tradition and practice are changing and creating new research tensions that need to be addressed, such as: 

1. Exclusive: Traditional Audio Description is exclusive in that it transmits to lone audience member, usually via headphones. This practice separates individuals from groups, even if the group (or subgroup) of people all are using the same Audio Description. The philosophies of Universal Design, though, push back against that idea, demanding better design, in which Audio Description listeners are integrated into the audience experience, not treated separately as an accommodation.

2. Neutral: Traditional AD prescribes a "neutral" approach to word choice and delivery. Others call that just dull, as in uninspired and uncaring. This is an area where many researchers, especially in Europe (but also within the UniD team) hypothesize that Audio Description as a medium has untapped potential in both artistry and delivery (which was the inspiration of our 2020 National Endowment for the Arts grant). 

3. Non-Auteur: Traditional AD is done independently of the artists creating the original work, which has raised many questions in the research community as to why?

4. Third-Party: Traditional AD also typically has been done by outsiders of even the field being shown, creating questions about describer knowledge of the source material as well as description validity and accuracy. 

5. Post-Hoc: Traditional AD is created afterward, at the end of the production process or as a way to retrofit an existing piece of visual media; this approach begs questions about why not integrate this process with the original production of the source material, among the people who know it best?

Fryer, in short, flips all of those traditions around, to challenge and to interrogate them, and to propose that an integrated and more-creative approach could equate to better Audio Description. 

Source: 

Fryer, L. (2018). The independent audio describer is dead: Long live audio description!. Journal of Audiovisual Translation, 1(1), 170-186.

  • "an interpretation of verbal signs by means of signs of nonverbal sign systems."
    – Jakobson, R. (1959). Linguistic aspects of translation. In R.A. Brower (Ed.), On Translation (pp. 232-239). Cambridge, MA:
    Harvard University Press. URL: https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674731615&content=toc

  • Converting one set of signs (semiotics) into another, such as "turning images into words"
    – Matamala, A., & Orero, P. (2007). Designing a course on audio description and defining the main competences of the future professional. Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series–Themes in Translation Studies, (6), 329-344. URL: https://lans-tts.uantwerpen.be/index.php/LANS-TTS/article/view/195/126
  • "a 'translation' of visual images into verbal text ... sets AD most distinctly apart from other forms of translation"
    – Braun, S. (2008). Audiodescription research: State of the art and beyond. Translation Studies in the New Millennium, 6, 14-30. URL: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/303022/

"a form of vivid evocation"

Source:

Webb, R. (1999). Ekphrasis ancient and modern: the invention of a genre. Word & Image15(1), 7-18.

"Hypotyposis is the rhetorical effect by which words succeed in rendering a visual scene."

Source:

Braun, S. (2008). Audiodescription research: state of the art and beyond. Translation studies in the new millennium, 6, 14-30.

As an alternative to "translation" or "accommodation" models, remediation theorizes that "new media" invariably achieves cultural significance through a process of remediation, in which the new media pays homage to, or rivals, or refashions earlier forms of media, in an evolutionary process. For example, in purely visual media, photography remediates painting. 

Audio Description, though, is a much more complicated case. Audio Description remediates visual media (such as words remediating a photograph) while also synthesizing a variety of audio-based media forms designed for sharing information and stories, such as radio programs, audio tours, and docent lectures.

Key Statistics: About blindness and visual impairment worldwide

A collection of the most important tallies about these communities, conducted by the most-reliable sources. 

"Blindness and vision impairment affect at least 2.2 billion people around the world. Of those, 1 billion have a preventable vision impairment or one that has yet to be addressed.  Reduced or absent eyesight can have major and long-lasting effects on all aspects of life, including daily personal activities, interacting with the community, school and work opportunities and the ability to access public services.

Reduced eyesight can be caused by a number of factors, including disease like diabetes and trachoma, trauma to the eyes, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. The majority of people with vision impairment are over the age of 50 years; however, vision loss can affect people of all ages. Blindness and vision loss are felt more acutely by people in low- and middle-income countries where accessibility and specific government services may be lacking. In those countries, the most common cause of vision impairment in children is congenital cataract."

– World Health Organization. (n.d). Blindness and Vision Impairment. https://www.who.int/health-topics/blindness-and-vision-loss#tab=tab_1

"Approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States have vision impairment, including 1 million who are blind, 3 million who have vision impairment after correction, and 8 million who have vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error."

– The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders. https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/fastfacts.htm

"There are several ways to define blindness. Many people regard blindness as the inability to see at all or, at best, to discern light from darkness. The National Federation of the Blind takes a much broader view. We encourage people to consider themselves as blind if their sight is bad enough—even with corrective lenses—that they must use alternative methods to engage in any activity that people with normal vision would do using their eyes."

– National Federation of the Blind. (n.d.). Blindness Statistics. https://www.nfb.org/resources/blindness-statistics

"Statistical Snapshots is your one-stop source for statistical facts, figures, and resources about Americans with vision loss. Relying upon the most recently available data, this regularly updated site is always evolving and should answer your most frequently asked questions."

– American Foundation for the Blind. (n.d). Statistical Snapshots from the American Foundation for the Blindhttps://www.afb.org/research-and-initiatives/statistics

"With the youngest of the baby boomers hitting 65 by 2029, the number of people with visual impairment or blindness in the United States is expected to double to more than 8 million by 2050, according to projections based on the most recent census data and from studies funded by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. Another 16.4 million Americans are expected to have difficulty seeing due to correctable refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness) that can be fixed with glasses, contacts or surgery."

– Varma, R. et al, “Visual impairment and blindness in adults in the United States: Demographic and Geographic Variations from 2015 to 2050,” JAMA Ophthalmology, https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/visual-impairment-blindness-cases-us-expected-double-2050

"Our data and statistics are free for researchers, policymakers, and members of the media to use and distribute. See how common eye conditions affect the U.S. population by age, gender, and race/ethnicity."

– National Eye Institute. (n.d). Eye Health Data and Statistics. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/resources-for-health-educators/eye-health-data-and-statistics

"Globally in 2020: At least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment that may or may not be addressed. Of those, at least 1 billion people have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed."

– The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. (n.d.). Blindness and Visual Impairment: Global Facts. https://www.iapb.org/vision-2020/who-facts/

"There are estimated to be over 30 million blind and partially sighted persons in geographical Europe."

– European Blind Union. (n.d). About Blindness and Partial Sight. http://www.euroblind.org/about-blindness-and-partial-sight/facts-and-figures

Theoretical Models of Disability: How do scholars conceptualize Audio Description?

One way to better understand Audio Description is to reflect upon how we are conceptualizing it in a relationship to a model of disability that has been theorized. These theories can be used in many ways, including to frame our perceptions. Once we choose that theoretical frame – and commit to its use – we can benefit from its powers as a device to develop deeper thoughts, including to describe positions, perspectives, and boundaries. Or, if none of these theoretical frames are working well enough for our particular purposes, we can use them as theoretical foils and create our own distinct theory, especially through contrasts to these established paradigms.

"For most of the twentieth century in ‘Western’ societies, disability has been equated with ‘flawed’ minds and bodies. It spans people who are ‘crippled’, ‘confined’ to wheelchairs, ‘victims’ of conditions such as cerebral palsy, or ‘suffering’ from deafness, blindness, ‘mental illness’ or ‘mental handicap’. The individual’s impairment or ‘abnormality’ necessitates dependence on family, friends and welfare services, with many segregated in specialized institutions. In short, disability amounts to a ‘personal tragedy’ and a social problem or ‘burden’ for the rest of society."

– Barnes, C., & Mercer, G. (2003). Disability. Polity. http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/content/bpl_images/content_store/sample_chapter/0745625088/Barnes.pdf

"In many countries of the world, disabled people and their allies have organised over the last three decades to challenge the historical oppression and exclusion of disabled people (Driedger, 1989; Campbell and Oliver, 1996; Charlton, 1998). Key to these struggles has been the challenge to over-medicalised and individualist accounts of disability. While the problems of disabled people have been explained historically in terms of divine punishment, karma or moral failing, and post-Enlightenment in terms of biological deficit, the disability movement has focused attention onto social oppression, cultural discourse and environmental barriers."

– Shakespeare, T. (2010). The social model of disability.  In L.J. Davis (Ed.), The Disability Studies Reader (2nd Ed., pp. 197-204). New York: Routledge. http://thedigitalcommons.org/docs/shakespeare_social-model-of-disability.pdf

"The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is a modern human rights treaty with innovative components. It impacts on disability studies as well as human rights law. Two innovations are scrutinized in this article: the model of disability and the equality and discrimination concepts of the CRPD. It is argued that the CRPD manifests a shift from the medical model to the human rights model of disability. Six propositions are offered why and how the human rights model differs from the social model of disability. It is further maintained that the CRPD introduces a new definition of discrimination into international public law. The underlying equality concept can be categorized as transformative equality with both individual and group-oriented components. The applied methodology of this research is legal doctrinal analysis and disability studies model analysis. The main finding is that the human rights model of disability improves the social model of disability. Three different models of disability can be attributed to different concepts of equality. The medical model corresponds with formal equality, while the social model with substantive equality and the human rights model can be linked with transformative equality."

– Degener, T. (2016). Disability in a human rights context. Laws5(3), 35. URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2075-471X/5/3/35

"The economic model of disability approaches disability from the viewpoint of economic analysis, focusing on ‘the various disabling effects of an impairment on a person’s capabilities, and in particular on labour and employment capabilities’ (Armstrong, Noble & Rosenbaum 2006:151, original emphasis). While the economic model insists on the importance of ‘respect, accommodations, and civil rights to people with disabilities’, such concerns are subservient to the economic model’s estimation of a disabled person’s ability to work and contribute to the economy (Smart 2004:37)."

– Retief, M., & Letšosa, R. (2018). Models of disability: A brief overview. HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies74(1). https://www.ajol.info/index.php/hts/article/view/177914

"This article attempts to explain why the social constructionist paradigm has failed to replace the medical model in American disability theory. The social movement led by American disability activists attempted to reframe the definition of disability using a minority group model based on the social constructionist paradigm. This paper argues that the disability movement was unable to successfully advance the social constructionist paradigm because the activists accepted the Americans With Disabilities Act (1990) despite its ideological basis in the medical model of disability, and the social constructionist theory does not adequately account for the importance of structural constraints to redefinition."

– Donoghue, C. (2003). Challenging the authority of the medical definition of disability: An analysis of the resistance to the social constructionist paradigm. Disability & Society18(2), 199-208. https://digitalcommons.montclair.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=sociology-facpubs

"What I argue in this article is that an exclusively special needs approach to disability is inevitably a short-run approach. What we need are more universal policies that recognize that the entire population is “at risk” for the concomitants of chronic illness and disability. As the following pages will show, without such a perspective we will further create and perpetuate a segregated, separate but unequal society—a society inappropriate to a larger and older “changing needs” population."

– Zola, I. K. (2005). Toward the Necessary Universalizing of a Disability Policy. The Milbank Quarterly, 83(4). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0009.2005.00436.x

"Our understanding of disability is based on the Nordic Relational Model of Disability (NRM), which has been guiding policy and practice for disabled people in Norway for approximately 40 years. According to the NRM, disability comes into existence when there is a discrepancy between the person’s capabilities and the functional demands of the environment (Tøssebro 2004). The relational understanding of disability indicates that this is not a fixed category but rather a phenomenon constructed in space and time, thus leaving a relative interactionist perspective (Gustavsson 2004). Gustavsson refers to Morten Söder: ‘It is impossible to understand the processes producing disability, and consequently exclusion and discrimination, without studying the interaction between the individual and the context.’ (Söder, in Gustavsson 2004:63). The NRM thus gives the opportunity to a multi-level approach guided by an empirical sensitivity to what is going on (Gustavsson 2004). To our understanding, the interactional perspective of the NRM is mirrored in current international policy documents (UN 2006), and has much in common with the social-relational model of disability as well, as both include both environmental and impairment factors. However, as we interpret it, the disabling elements of the social-relational are recognised as external barriers and oppression; this is in contrast to the NRM perspective that focuses on interaction (Shakespeare 2014)."

– Langørgen, E., & Magnus, E. (2018). ‘We are just ordinary people working hard to reach our goals!’ Disabled students’ participation in Norwegian higher education. Disability & Society33(4), 598-617. URL: https://ntnuopen.ntnu.no/ntnu-xmlui/bitstream/handle/11250/2487117/Artikkel%2B1_Disability%2Band%2BSociety_jan18.pdf?sequence=1

"Over the last decade Amartya Senís Capability Approach (CA) has emerged as the leading alternative to standard economic frameworks for thinking about poverty, inequality and human development generally. In countless articles and several books that tackle a range of economic, social and ethical questions (beginning with the Tanner Lecture ëEquality of What?í delivered at Stanford University in 1979), Professor Sen has developed, refined and defended a framework that is directly concerned with human capability and freedom (e.g. Sen, 1980; 1984; 1985; 1987; 1992; 1999)."

– Clark, D.A. (2006). The Capability Approach. The Elgar Companion to Development Studies, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

"Disability is defined as a deprivation in terms of functioning and/or capability among persons with health conditions and/or impairments. The human development model highlights in relation to wellbeing the roles of resources, conversion functions, agency, and it uses capabilities and/or functionings as metric for wellbeing. It does not consider impairments/health conditions as individual characteristics; instead, they are themselves determined by resources, structural factors, and personal characteristics, and thus the model is informed by the socioeconomic determinants of health literature."

– Mitra S. (2018) Disability, Health and Human Development. Palgrave Pivot, New York. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1057%2F978-1-137-53638-9.pdf


Research Questions: What are RQs in Audio Description we have (and haven't) addressed?

Audio Description is a relatively new field of academic inquiry. It formally was started in the 1970s in the United States (by Gregory T. Frazier of San Francisco State University). But it only has been developed widely by interdisciplinary scholars in the 2000s, mostly by Audiovisual Translation (AVT) scholars in Western Europe.

Sometimes an expression is clear and can be efficiently communicated, but often, the ambiguity in the expression leads to individual interpretation. If the expression is open for interpretation, and interpretation is a part of the meaning-making process of viewing the image, then that activity also should be extended and afforded to the Audio Description listener. Other times, though, a person "smiles" is all that needs to be said to get the point of the visual image across. 

Facial expressions are a complicated and well-studied area of human communication. We still need to know more through empirical testing about how much of this type of description is enough in Audio Description studies, along the lines of Leung's research below. At this point, our recommendation is to focus on general and commonly recognized expressions, such as saying a person is smiling to indicate happiness, or frowning to indicate sadness, rather than getting too technical with facial muscle descriptions that might not be understood without detailed explanation.

But to be more technical about it, starting with Darwin and developed by others, such as Hjortsjo, and then Ekman, Friesen, et al, the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) has been used by many researchers to isolate and identify expressions and the intent behind them. So that could be an avenue for further research.

This is a complicated question with a simple answer: It depends. The quality of the description and the importance of the information to the listener will dictate how long the connection between the two can be maintained. Listeners will have physical constraints, such as how long they are willing to stay in place to listen, and mental constraints, with complex and lengthy descriptions creating a potential for cognitive overload. 

According to Art Beyond Sight's Verbal Description guidelines (full guidelines linked), audio tour companies aim for 90 seconds to two minutes, per stop. But those are guidelines were generated from private research studies (so we can't investigate the data), and they are studying people with sight who are using audio as a supplement to visual information, rather than as the primary channel. So this dynamic, we think, could be significantly different for people who are blind or low-vision. More research is needed, in other words. 

As a heuristic, though, two minutes is a helpful flag for describers and designers. We have anecdotally found that our listeners like to be able to navigate around the content, to find the most interesting, or the most useful, and to dive into that section rather than listen to lengthy components that mix different themes. So at the two-minute mark, and especially if the descriptions are double that, or longer, we would ask ourselves as describers, is there a way that this information could be broken down into smaller segments? 

In that vein, the UniD system is designed to allow describers great flexibility in how the description is structured.

This needs more empirical research, but we have adopted and adapted Art Beyond Sight's Verbal Description guidelines (full guidelines linked), which argue for the following, in this order:

First, the basic information, including the title of the work, the artist’s name, the medium, maybe the year it was done, maybe where it can be seen.

Then, describe the artifact as an object of observation (what does it look like as an image), including its shape, dimensions, and point of view.

Then, describe the content of the image. Who is doing what to whom, when and where and why and how?

In what order should that information be presented? This is a matter of significant debate.

Marza Ibanez (2010, p. 147) suggests the content unspools in this order for dynamic AD (we are not aware of ordering studies in static AD, so we think ordering needs more research):

1. The spatio-temporal setting is recognized first, in the Where: The setting, and also the spatial relationships between characters. In other words, set the scene, and the When: When is this visual happening (during a specific event, sometime in history, during an unarticulated time in the recent past?)

2. Who: Who are the characters in the scene? What do they look like? What facial and corporeal expressions are they making? What types of clothing are they wearing? 

3. What: What action is happening here. What are these people doing, and why?

4. How: How are they carrying this out; with what sort of intentionality and attitudes.

Source: 

Marzà Ibáñez, A. (2010). Evaluation criteria and film narrative. A frame to teaching relevance in audio description. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology18(3), 143-153.

Learn About Audio Description Genres: Portraits (Describing People)

You are describing an image of a person. What are the best ways to approach that activity?

We would like to help you better understand certain aspects of Audio Description at the same time that we learn from you about how you approach it. This online training / survey module will present various Audio Description opportunities for you – as well as examples and best practices – while your answers to these survey questions will help us better understand how you learn about the topic.

Learn About Audio Description Genres: Describing Cultural Artifacts (or Objects)

You are describing a cultural artifact (aka a non-personified object). What are the best ways to approach that activity?

We would like to help you better understand certain aspects of Audio Description at the same time that we learn from you about how you approach it. This online training / survey module will present various Audio Description opportunities for you – as well as examples and best practices – while your answers to these survey questions will help us better understand how you learn about the topic.

Learn About Audio Description Genres: Maps

You are describing a map. What are the best ways to approach that activity?

We would like to help you better understand certain aspects of Audio Description at the same time that we learn from you about how you approach it. This online training / survey module will present various Audio Description opportunities for you – as well as examples and best practices – while your answers to these survey questions will help us better understand how you learn about the topic.

Learn About Audio Description Genres: Collages (Images Combined to Make Meaning)

You are describing an amalgamation of images. What are the best ways to approach that activity?

We would like to help you better understand certain aspects of Audio Description at the same time that we learn from you about how you approach it. This online training / survey module will present various Audio Description opportunities for you – as well as examples and best practices – while your answers to these survey questions will help us better understand how you learn about the topic.

UniDescription Tools: How do I use the basic functions and features of UniD?

This section describes how the basic functions and features work.

Coming soon!

Once you select the "Register" link, at the top right of the page, you can follow the prompts on the right-hand side of the page (the left-hand side of the page is for after you register, as a place to "Sign In." These prompts ask you to supply your name, your email address, and to choose a password. Our Privacy Policy describes how we protect your data.

If you forget your password, look for the "Forgot Password" link under the "Sign In" button on the Sign In page. The link to the Sign In page is in the upper right-hand corner of this website, in the navigation bar. When you are added to a project, UniD automatically will create an account for you. It sends you an email to help you log in for the first time. So you also might want to look for that email by searching for "unidescription" in your spam folder. If you try to register or sign in, and UniD says you already have an account, you probably were added to a project by a colleague already. All you have to do to get into the project is just select the "Forgot Password" link to recover your account access.

To customize your appearance on UniD, select the "My Account" link in the upper-right corner of the site, in the navigation bar, after you have signed in. The drop-down menu will offer a "Settings" option. Choose that, and then follow the prompts.

After signing in, you can select the "Projects" drop-down menu in the upper-right corner of the screen, in the navigation bar. Then choose the "Create New Project" drop-down menu link.

Open your Project. Select the Backstage tab. Scroll down until you find the Share Project tool. Add the email of your colleague to the box and select the Share button. That will create an account for your colleague, based on the email you provide, and it also will send an email to your colleague to let that person know about the account. If that person cannot find the UniD email, then recheck that the right email was provided (and that the person is checking the right account). Also, the receiver of the email can search for "unidescription" in the spam folder, which also might be where it ended up.

If you are a part of a larger app project (such as the U.S. National Park Service's UniD app), then we will add your project directly into that app when you tell us it's ready. Even if the descriptions are shared via that project app, you also should consider adding them to your own website (via the HTML export). You also might have a patron who wants the Mp3s or Text files directly. That's also fine to share, and our tools allow you to export and share freely. Again, this is your (and your audience's) content. Give it away as liberally as possible. We want as many people to hear it as possible.

When adjusting the machine-voice sounds of your project (how the Mp3s sound, when they are machine-voiced), you have two choices to make about those altered phonetics. No. 1, you can adjust the phonetics component by component on the Frontstage component-level view (Tool Training for that). That choice will only change the way the Mp3 sounds for that single component (it will not alter the exported text, or the sounds of the word in other places in the project). Most people will want to do it that way, for granular precision. But, sometimes, you have a very unusual word in your project, like a street name or a town name, that continually is getting misread by our machine voice. Instead of having to change that word component by component, over and over, you instead can choose to alter its pronunciation in our Global Phonetic Library. WARNING: This will change the pronunciation of that word on everyone's projects in UniD, so please reserve the use of this tool for only words you feel very confident that no one else will want to sound differently.

UniDescription Tools: How do I use the Backstage on UniD?

This section describes how the Backstage works.

This screencast helps to conceptually explain the Backstage view of the UniD tool, as compared to the Frontstage index and the Frontstage component-level views.

This screencast describes how to manage your team on UniD.

If you are a part of a larger app project (such as the U.S. National Park Service's UniD app), then we will add your project directly into that app when you tell us it's ready. Even if the descriptions are shared via that project app, you also should consider adding them to your own website (via the HTML export). You also might have a patron who wants the Mp3s or Text files directly. That's also fine to share, and our tools allow you to export and share freely. Again, this is your (and your audience's) content. Give it away as liberally as possible. We want as many people to hear it as possible.

If you want to keep your key documents and files all together, you can store them with your project file on UniD.

When adjusting the machine-voice sounds of your project (how the Mp3s sound, when they are machine-voiced), you have two choices to make about those altered phonetics. No. 1, you can adjust the phonetics component by component on the Frontstage component-level view (Tool Training for that). That choice will only change the way the Mp3 sounds for that single component (it will not alter the exported text, or the sounds of the word in other places in the project). Most people will want to do it that way, for granular precision. But, sometimes, you have a very unusual word in your project, like a street name or a town name, that continually is getting misread by our machine voice. Instead of having to change that word component by component, over and over, you instead can choose to alter its pronunciation in our Global Phonetic Library. WARNING: This will change the pronunciation of that word on everyone's projects in UniD, so please reserve the use of this tool for only words you feel very confident that no one else will want to sound differently.

UniDescription Tools: How do I use the Frontstage on UniD?

This section explains how the Frontstage tools work.

This screencast helps to conceptually explain the Frontstage index and the Frontstage component-level views, as compared to the Backstage view.

This screencast explains how the Table of Contents works. 

This screencast explains how the component-level view of the Frontstage works.

This screencast explains how to add description to the UniD project and to adjust how the machine voice pronounces it.

This screencast explains how to attach and publish (or not) a photo related to the description.

This screencast explains the geolocation features of UniD, allowing descriptions to be connected to particular places via GPS.

You want to make Audio Description?

Nothing is stopping you now! This open-access site offers robust training sessions as well as the production tools you need to create and share Audio Description; just sign in and get started.

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