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Inclusive Media: Audio Description as Innovation and Access Deborah Fels, Ph.D., P.Eng.

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Presentation on theme: "Inclusive Media: Audio Description as Innovation and Access Deborah Fels, Ph.D., P.Eng."— Presentation transcript:

1 Inclusive Media: Audio Description as Innovation and Access Deborah Fels, Ph.D., P.Eng.

2 Agenda 1.Disability theories: Medical and Social 2.Universal and inclusive design 3.Entertainment theory 4.Audio description 5.Philosophy of our research 6.Examples

3 Disabilities are an individual problem that needs to be resolved by the individual.

4 Disabilities are a societal problem that needs to be resolved by all people.

5 Universal Design 2 Innovation Technology designed to work with diversity. Technology for disability is useful to others. Designing access from the beginning is good design & less costly than retrofitting.

6 Inclusive Design UK development Design to include as many people as possible and practical. – Accessible, useful and meaningful Accomplished throughout design process and as part of it. Has roots in social and cultural values as well as human rights. “One size fits one” as a concept. (

7 Entertainment theory “The best thing I liked about Borat is that the describer got some of the visual jokes. The worst thing is that they missed some of them and didn’t make it funny.” (New Zealander, 2014) Director (creative team) control and design entertainment experience. – Ensure content accurately and effectively communicates his/her “vision” – Each of parts come together to form the whole – If AD is outside of this process then what does a blind audience get?

8 Inclusive Design in Media Captioning/subtitling for hard of hearing. Used by many. – Gym, pub, language learners, schools, to avoid disturbing others But….. – Much information is missing – Not designed from start but after master edit is complete. Audio description. – Not used by many – Using same process as captioning

9 Inclusive AD Key concepts 1.Inclusive/universal design model. 2.Adopt a social model of disability rather than medical model. 3.People who are deaf or blind want to be entertained rather than informed. 4.Creative team needs control. 5.It is creative. 6.Amateurs have a place.

10 Audio description at IMDC Needs analysis (2004) – What did we find? – Wanted to find out why What we found – Very little literature Early work by AFB, ITC in UK, Peli (WBGH), AUDETEL projects – Similarity to captioning – Same approach for every show – Did not use universal design model What about different approaches (is that possible and what happens)? – What do directors think?

11 What happened Odd Job Jack (2005) – Producer and director attended an accessible media workshop and wanted to try. – Script writer wrote AD, director decided to use 1 st person narrative. – First person: Odd Job JackOdd Job Jack – Compared to conventional described version. Hamlet (2006) – University theatre. – Director wanted describer to take role of Horatio. – Introduced touch tour. – Live: Hamlet.Hamlet Ryerson Fashion Show (2006) – Colour commentary approach. – Fashion student with training in TV commentary. – Colour commentary: Mass Exodus 2006.

12 User reaction – Early on Overwhelmingly positive in favour of integrated AD. Market survey; sighted people liked OJJ and would pay for it. Touch tour helped understanding. Horatio’s perspective helped understand show. Blind and sighted audience benefited.

13 Since that time 10 theatre productions – Community, professional & commercial theatre – Blind playwright, blind describer 1 circus 21 television shows 1 film + 3 in production

14 What has happened Directors embracing AD and trying new ideas. – Director described – Producer involved – Post-editing companies Hybrid approach. – Description company + director or creative team member Theatre students. LiveDescribe (Web), YouDescribe, etc. Practice is changing, new standards based incorporating research (ISO, ITU). New business & accounting models. Director: Magical Coincidence (Keith Lock, director)Magical Coincidence (Keith Lock, director

15 LiveDescribe

16 New ideas Cultural context and perspective. – First nations – Deaf film-makers – Asian films Zagga Entertainment.

17 Concluding remarks Audio description is creative. Audio description can be integrated into creative process. Audio description does not need to follow captioning process. Entertainment is about having fun and being engaged. The winds of AD are changing and this is good. New business models need to be considered.

18 Partnerships SMART Lab Smiley Guy Studios Glenvale Players Mirvish Productions Google Smith-Kettlewell OCADU ReelAsian Film Festival, ImaginNative, Tidfaf

19 Acknowledgements

20 Contact Information Emails: Websites:,

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