Washington State Audio Description Project

The Washington State Audio Description Project (WSADP), coordinated in Summer 2021 by The DO-IT Center at The University of Washington, was a project to support higher education institutions across Washington state in building their capacity to add audio description to public videos.

About Audio Description

Audio description is a narrative audio track that accompanies a video, describing important visual content for people who are unable to see the video. Individuals who are blind can understand much of a video's content by listening to its audio. However, if a video includes content that is only presented visually (e.g., on-screen text or key actions that are not obvious from the audio) this visual information must be described. This benefits people who are unable to see the video due to blindness or low vision. It also benefits users who are visually distracted, watching a video in the background while multitasking.

Project Participants

Participants received:

Participants agreed to:

Advance Research in AI for Audio Description

A team of students at the University of Washington was working to create a tool that uses artificial intelligence to automatically describe videos. All videos submitted through the current project, in addition to being described professionally, were additionally automatically described using the students' service. This helped them to advance the state of the science in this area, and potentially could have a significant impact on the availability and affordability of described video. Check out these examples of their work (all links open on YouTube):

For information about the students' findings, see the paper by Lucy Jiang and Daniel Zhu, VerbalEyes: A Large-Scale Inquiry into the State of Audio Description (in PDF). Since the conclusion of the current project, some members of the student team have launched VerbalEyes, a company that seeks to leverage technology to semi-automate the creation of audio descriptions in order to scale the production to match the growing demand.