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ADA Toolkit - Accessibility Resources - Audio Description

Audio description is the verbal translation of visual information to make theater, television, films, museum exhibits, and events more understandable for people with low or no vision. The describer carefully weaves concise descriptions of the key visual elements of a performance or movie into the natural pauses of the dialogue. Audio description is generally delivered via an FM or infrared system, operated on a unique channel from the venue's ALS for patrons who are hard of hearing. For patrons who are blind or have low vision, audio description provides full cultural accessibility. VSA Texas offers audio description services that are provided on a regular basis at Central Texas area theaters, museums and movie theaters, in addition to other requested events. Describers are trained at quarterly intervals, and new describers are engaged in an apprentice program. We are the only audio description service provider in the nation that offers live description of first run movies.

Visit the VSA Texas' calendar of described events.

See caption for description.

A visually impaired man enjoying a movie through audio description.

The Art of Audio Description Training Tapes

Audio description is as unique as the individual delivering the service. These training materials are designed to help individuals learn the general principles and techniques of audio description, and are not intended to replace professional instruction. Using video and workbook examples, the materials provide an opportunity to apply these skills in the arts, the classroom and the workplace.

Training Materials

Audio Description - The Fundamentals
Audio Description - The Arts and Entertainment
Supplemental Video One
Supplemental Video Two
Audio Description - The Classroom and the Workplace

Thanks to a generous grant from Texas Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired the complete set can be purchased for $60.00. For more information about how to order Audio Description Training Tapes please contact "General Info" using our online form.

History of Audio Description

Now, The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) proposes accessibility standards for electronic and information technology covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. Section 508 requires the Access Board to publish standards setting forth a definition of electronic and information technology and the technical and functional performance criteria necessary for accessibility for such technology. Section 508 requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, they shall ensure that the electronic and information technology allows Federal employees with disabilities to have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of information and data by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a Federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.

In Theatres

The describer talks via an internal microphone system to listeners anywhere in the audience. Speaking softly during pauses in the stage dialog, the trained describer verbally pictures actions, body language, lights, costumes, scenery and other aspects of the production not conveyed by voices from the stage. For theatre patrons with low or no vision, audio description provides visual accessibility.

For Museums and Exhibits

Docents trained in audio description who develop specially prepared scripts help assist visitors who are blind to experience the exhibits. Depending on the museum's resources, description can be provided live or via audiocassette.

In Theatres

Televised described shows are designated with the symbol DVS, which stands for Descriptive Video Service. The viewer's television set must have a SAP (Second Audio Program) Channel in order to hear the descriptions, or they may purchase a special box that plugs into their TV and allows them to receive the descriptions. DVS is currently offered in select movie theaters.

Resources for Audio Description in Your Area

Acoustiguide, Inc.
102 W. 38th Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10018
(212) 329-1227 (V)
(212) 575-6574 (F)

Antenna Audio North America Head Office
P.O. Box 176
Building 1058 Fort Cronkhite
Sausalito, CA 4966
(415) 332-4862 (V)
(415) 332-4870 (F)

4225 N. 36th Street 321
Phoenix, AZ 85018
(602) 364-0291
(612) 332-0132

Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences
Jesse Minkert, Director
212 Harvard Ave. E. #402
Seattle, Washington 98102
(206) 323-7190

Audio Description Project (ADP)

Audio Description Coalition
Bill Patterson
110 Lincoln Way W
New Oxford, PA 17350-1314
(717) 624-4860

B-Creative Audio Description Services
Bonnie Barlow
Email Bonnie

COMTEK® Communications Technology, Inc.
357 West 2700 South

Salt Lake City, UT 84115

(801) 466-3463, (800) 496-3463 (V)
(801) 484-6906 (F)

Cultural Access Consortium
Judy Burke
50 Franklin Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
Email Cultural Access Consortium

Durateq ATV (Assistive Technology Version)
Softeq Development Ltd.
1155 Dairy Ashford Suite 125
Houston, TX 77079
(281) 552-5001, (888) 552-5001 (V)
(281) 552-5099 (F)

The ELA Foundation
Deborah Lewis, Director
2460 N. Lake Ave PMB128
Altadena, Ca 91001-2442
(626) 398-8840

Galaxy Audio Inc.
PO Box 16285
Wichita, KS 67216-0285
(316) 263-2852 (V)

General Technologies Inc.
3806 Security Park Drive
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742-6916

Gentner Assistive Listening Systems
Starin Marketing, Inc.
136 Venturi Drive
Chesterton, IN 46304
(219) 929-4127 (V)
(219) 929-4377 (F)

HARC Mercantile Ltd
1111 West Centre Ave.
Portage, MI 49024
(800) 445-9968, (269) 324-1615 (V)
(269) 324-2387 (F)

Innovative Hearing Devices
482 W. San Ysidro Blvd. #1292
San Ysidro, CA 92173
(951) 999-2034

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Betty Siegel, Director of Accessibility
2700 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20566
(202) 416-8727 (V)

Listen Technologies Corporation
14912 Heritagecrest Way
Bluffdale, Utah 84065-4818
(801) 233-8992, (800) 330-0891 (V)
(801) 233-8995 (F)

Nady Systems, Inc.
6701 Shellmound St.
Emeryville, CA 94608
(510) 652-2411 (V)
(510) 652-5075 (F)

National Arts and Disability Center

Oaktree Products, Inc.
716 Crown Industrial Court
Chesterfield, MO 63005
(636) 530-1664 (V)
(636) 530-6158 (F)

R.L. Drake, LLC
230 Industrial Dr.
Franklin, OH 45005
(937) 746-4556 (V)
(937) 806-1510 (F)

Talk Technologies, Inc.
28 Yale Street
Garden City, New York 11530
(888) 811-9944 (V)
(866) 811-9944 (F)

Telex Communications, Inc.
12000 Portland Ave South
Burnsville, MN 55337
(877) 863-4166, (952) 884-4051 (V)

Theater Vision
RP International
P.O. Box 900
Woodland Hills, CA 91365
(818) 992-0500
(818) 992-3265

Sennheiser Electronic Corporation
1 Enterprise Drive
Old Lyme, CT 06371
(860) 434-9190 (V)
(860) 434-1759 (F)

Sound Associates, Inc.
424 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 757-5679, (888) 772-7686 (V)
(212) 265-1250 (F)

VSA Colorado
Damon McLeese, Director
909 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80204
303.777.0797 (V)
303.777.0798 (TTY)

VSA Minnesota
Craig Dunn, Director
528 Hennepin Ave., Suite 305
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 332-3888
(612) 332-0132

Williams Sound Corp.
10321 W. 70th Street
Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3446
(952) 943-2252, (800) 328-6190 (V)
(952) 943-2174 (F)

VSA arts of Texas is always looking for people to join us in our goal of assisting arts organizations to achieve maximum accessibility.

Contact VSA Texas for more information on how you can help.

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