Described Video (DV) uses a secondary audio track synchronized with media to provide aural representation of visual narrative of a program's non-verbal elements that may include surroundings, costumes and body language. The description is added during pauses in dialogue, and enables people to form a mental picture of what is happening in the program. Described video typically uses a separate audio track that is added to the program after the program has been completed. AMI programming that utilizes DV include Murdoch Mysteries, Elementary, Corner Gas and Kim's Convenience.
The term Audio Description (AD) is more commonly used in markets outside of Canada, most notably, the United States and the United Kingdom. For all intents and purposes, it is practically identical to DV in that a separate narrated track accompanies the program providing descriptions of on-screen or onstage elements. In Canada, however, AD has a separate definition from DV: AD uses a program host or announcer to provide a basic voice-over, reading text and describing graphics that appear on the screen. AD is often used for newscasts, weather reports, sports scores or financial data, and is best suited to live, information-based programming.
Described Video Best Practices
In July 2012, Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) embarked upon a process to develop Described Video Best Practices for the Canadian broadcasting industry with the support of the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
One of the purposes of these sets of Best Practices was to highlight how Canada has led the development of DV since description’s introduction to North America in the 1990’s. Canadians have many years of exposure to DV, and the DVBP Working Group believed the time was right for viewers to expect a higher level of quality.
Over the last four years AMI has worked in partnership with the CAB, producers of described video, and grassroots organizations representing the blind and partially sighted community to create Post-Production Described Video Best Practices and Live Described Video Best Practices. The Integrated Described Video Best Practices are currently under review and will be made available pending CAB approval.
These best practices are living documents that will continue to evolve in order to ensure that consistent, quality DV is produced across the broadcast industry in Canada.