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RNIB report on improving audio description for documentary television programs

Audio description is described by Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) as additional commentary for television programmes that explains what is happening on screen.

Audio description can describe body language, expressions, and movements, as well as the aesthetics of a programme, making a programme clear through sound. This accessibility feature has been designed to allow individuals with partial or no sight to watch and enjoy television, and whilst it is an effective tool, its current availability is limited. A content analysis conducted by RNIB revealed that, across 3 days and 82 channels, only 27% of television was audio-described. 20 television genres were identified across the 3-day period and their audio description availabilities were noted against their potential audio description availabilities. This research motivated RNIB to conduct additional research to establish specific barriers to accessibility within each genre identified. Factual television, often referred to as documentary television, comprised 10 of the 20 genres identified, due to its abundance of sub-categories, such as factual nature, or factual reality. As a result, this far-reaching and varied genre will be the focus of this study. The aim of this research is to establish the 3 current qualities of audio description for documentary television and how the audio description for this genre can be improved upon.