What is Described Video?

  • Authored on November 2, 2016

Post Production Described Video

Described Video (DV) is the narrated description 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.

Audio Description

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.

Live Described Video

Live DV is similar to post production DV but is performed in real-time during a live event or program. AMI has live described a number of high profile events including The Royal Wedding, Toronto Blue Jays Baseball, the Grey Cup and Paralympic Opening ceremonies.

For more information on best practices for Live DV, please read our Live Describe Video Best Practice guide (PDF)

Live-to-tape Described Video

Live-to-tape DV is similar in nature to Live DV except that the real-time narration procedure is applied to previously recorded programs. This method is used to expedite the production process for productions with a fast turnaround and little action.

Integrated Described Video

Integrated Described Video (IDV) is a method of producing television content for blind and partially sighted audiences from the ground up, whereby the identification of key visual elements is incorporated into the pre-production, production and post-production phases, so that traditional DV is not required after the program has been packaged. AMI uses IDV in many of its original television programs including Four Senses and AMI This Week.

Want to learn more about IDV? Please read our Integrated Described Video whitepaper (PDF). Or check out the Integrated Described Video Best Practices guide (PDF).

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.


Described Video (DV)

Live Described Video

Integrated Described Video (IDV)