Tips for Writing Descriptive Scripts

Reduce the Need for Audio Description by Including Descriptive Language in your Scripts 

Academic videos that you create could avoid the need for audio description if you create integrated describe videos (IDV). The first step in the IDV process is to include descriptive language in your video script. Descriptive scripts provide the following benefits:

  • “Eyes free” environment – listen to what’s going on when you aren’t able to watch
  • Improves language development; also improves comprehension for auditory learners
  • Improves comprehension for students with autism, ADHD and other cognitive and neurological disabilities
  • People who are blind/low vision get crucial information that can only be acquired visually

Descriptive Language Techniques

Use the following techniques to limit the need for audio description for your videos:

  • Write for radio. Radio announcers (think sportscasters), provide detailed narration, describing the important aspects of actions that occur, because their audience can’t see what’s happening. If you close your eyes, will you be able to understand your entire video, or would you need additional information to fully understand everything? The more description you provide, the less need there is for audio description.
  • Identify speaker and other key changes. Add in language that identifies the speaker and when speakers change.
  • Avoid vague language
    • Example:  instead of saying “When I click this”, say “When I click the Help tab”.
  • Read aloud important text that displays on the screen. This includes title slides at the beginning of a video, scenes or topics changes, and lists displayed during the video.
  • Only describe the visuals that are important to your topic. If the visual isn’t described, will students be able to learn what they need to know if they can’t see it? Would important information be missed if the student can’t see the visual? Is the visual there for decoration only?
  • Focus on the important elements of the visual information. It’s not necessary to describe every aspect of the visual – only the parts that are pertinent to the topic.
  • Include accessible supplemental resources. Supplements can help make specific aspects of your video accessible.
    • Example #1: Provide an accessible version of your slide presentation for viewers to use while watching your video presentation
    • Example #2: Give students a separate document that contains detailed descriptions of the complex diagrams you discuss in your video. Reference the document as needed.

Descriptive  Video & Script Example

Show Me Your Art is an integrated described video created by Accessible Media, Inc (AMI). In the video, artist Kelly Wray tours a pottery studio. Note how the video uses the following descriptive language techniques to expertly integrate descriptive language into the video, thus eliminating the need for audio description:

  1. Identifies speakers and key changes – introduces the host (first speaker)
  2. Describes visuals important to the topic; focuses on important visual elements – host describes the setting that pertains to the topic, and only the important details of that setting
  3. Identifies speakers and key changes – host introduces the new speaker
  4. Avoids vague language; focuses on important visual elements – the speaker describes exactly what he’s doing as he’s doing it; he only describes the things viewers need to know

Check out the Show Me Your Art Descriptive Script to see the structure of the video script.


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