One of my all-time favorite accessibility tools for low vision and photosensitivity is audio description, which I first discovered when going to a movie with friends at the end of my freshman year in college. I immediately started wondering where this amazing technology had been all of my life, as audio description provides an additional narrative track that describes visual information and also can provide warnings about flashing lights.
Fast forward several years, and I’m now using audio description for almost everything- movies, TV shows, museums, and even YouTube. The YouDescribe service has been a major game changer for finding audio described content on YouTube, as well as giving me a platform to request audio description for videos I am interested in. Today I will be sharing an overview of YouDescribe and their audio description for YouTube.
How to access YouDescribe
YouDescribe is available as an iOS app and on the YouDescribe website, which can be accessed through the web browser. I prefer to use the web browser, as I can more easily cast videos to my Google Chromecast or play them in full screen. YouDescribe does not work in mobile browsers, such as those on iOS or Android.
YouDescribe videos can be watched without an account, but users will need to log in with a Google account to request or record audio description for videos.
- YouDescribe – Audio Description for YouTube Videos
- YouDescribe on the App Store (apple.com)
- YouDescribe extension for Youtube™ – Chrome Web Store (google.com)
YouDescribe features for blind and low vision users
YouDescribe can be accessed with assistive technology such as screen readers, screen magnification, and large print/browser zoom and has several features for watching and browsing videos, including:
The YouDescribe homepage features the most recently described videos, which cover a wide variety of topics and languages
Search for videos by title or topic, with options to filter described videos and non-described videos. Non-described videos can be added to the wish list.
Blind and low vision users can request YouTube videos for description and vote on videos they would like to have described. There is no set timeline on how long it takes for a video to be described once it is added to the wishlist, but in my experience the videos are usually described within a week. Requests are in order from oldest to newest.
Adjusting volume for description
When a video is open, users can adjust the volume of the audio description tracks with the Description Volume slider underneath the video. There are also options to turn off description tracks entirely under Description Options.
Selected description shows the display name for the narrator/author of the audio description track, with an option to rate the description between 1 and 5 stars.
- TumbleBooks: Audio Narrated Picture Books For Low Vision
- Watching Twelfth Night With Audio Description From The National Theatre
Examples of content that can be described for YouDescribe
Any video that is publicly listed on YouTube can be described on YouDescribe! Some of my favorite types of content include:
- Music videos
- Educational videos and science experiments
- Viral videos and popular videos
- Recipe videos
- Arts and crafts tutorials
- Dance videos
- Videos by blind and low vision content creators
- Creating Audio Description for Music Videos With YouDescribe
- Creating Audio Description For Science Experiments With YouDescribe
- Creating Audio Description For Primary Source Videos With YouDescribe
- Creating Audio Description For Viral Videos With YouDescribe
- Creating Audio Description For Recipe Videos With YouDescribe
- Creating Audio Description For Crafting Tutorials With YouDescribe
- Creating Audio Description For Dance Tutorials With YouDescribe
How to describe videos for YouDescribe
Want to learn more about how to describe videos for YouDescribe? YouDescribe has a built-in software for creating audio description tracks for free, which is fantastic for teachers, students, and volunteers who are looking for a unique way to help people who are blind or visually impaired. I have an entire post about how to create descriptions for YouTube with YouDescribe linked below.
- How To Create Audio Description For YouTube With YouDescribe
- Promoting Cast Involvement In Audio Description
- How To Write Video Descriptions For TikTok
How I use YouDescribe
Admittedly, I have never been a huge YouTube person, and I don’t watch YouTube every day or follow very many YouTubers. That said, here are some of the ways that I use YouDescribe as a viewer with low vision and photosensitivity:
- Watching music videos
- Checking out movie trailers that friends send me
- Browsing cooking videos and recipe videos
- Finding tutorials or educational videos
- How Students Can Celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day
- 12 Safe Alternatives To The Bird Box Challenge
More information on YouDescribe and audio description for YouTube videos
- Any video that is publicly listed on YouTube can be described on YouDescribe
- Enjoy a particular narrator? Search for their name with YouDescribe’s search tool. For example, searching Veronica With Four Eyes will pull up a Taylor Swift music video that my brother and I collaborated on in 2019.
- YouDescribe is hosted by the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, which is a nonprofit research organization that focuses on visual impairment
- Want to read all of my posts on YouDescribe and audio description? Check out Audio Description Archives | Veronica With Four Eyes (veroniiiica.com)