AD 2020 – what will happen to audio description in the next 5 years?

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Wednesday, 22 April 2015 10:24am

Predicting the future beyond the next year or two is a risky business, even more so if you are looking at media and digital services. Media Access Australia CEO, Alex Varley, will be putting his access expertise and reputation on the line at the annual Print Disability Round Table in Adelaide where he will speculate on what audio description (AD) will look like in the year 2020.

Elderly farmer wearing headphones whilst using a stylus on a tablet device, over an aluminum tray of peas resting on his lap

Media Access Australia’s CEO will tell attendees of the 2015 conference that he sees seven key areas that will shape AD services in the five years to come:

  1. Automation: This will speed up some of the processes of delivery and synthetic voices will be standard, meaning you will pay more for a human reading the description.
  2. Presentation standards: These will still be subjective, with no worldwide quality regime in place.
  3. Follow the money: The monetisation of audio description, its role in boosting audiences and helping image search will be bigger commercial drivers than the value of the blind audience.  
  4. Digitisation: Enhanced audio description using layers of digital options will provide more scope for detailed information and a better user experience, but the trick is to avoid information overload.
  5. Audio description playback: Voice menus and ease of access for blind people will be standard on all new devices, but there will still be hundreds of useless apps released.  
  6. Regulations: These will not catch up and in some countries, broadcast audio description will be bypassed and the service will go straight to digital catch-up TV.
  7. Constancy: Some things never change. Lots of media will still be consumed by a family watching a device in the corner of the living room. That device will often be a digital TV.

This updates a broader session that Mr Varley chaired at the Languages and the Media conference in Berlin in 2014.

You can read more of Media Access Australia’s coverage of the conference online:

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