The traditional audio description of an audio track has a third person that provides information on the visual part of a television program or a film. The current use of traditional audio description can sometimes overlap with other sound components in the soundtrack such as sound effects and music.
In fact, in the new format, verbal descriptions are least and sound design is used as the key vehicle to access with the combination of 3D sound, additional sound effects, and first-person narration.
Earlier in 2016, researchers carried out a survey to find 34% of visually impaired individuals had not visited cinema in the last 12 months related to issues of accessibility to discourage them.
Meanwhile, the new methods produced results in a more organic form of accessibility that will help to bring about a more inclusive cinematic experience.
The study undertaken by University of York researchers seeks to provide a substitute soundtrack that minimized the number of verbal descriptions thus resulting to avoid masking of crucial elements in the original soundtrack.
Importantly, the initiative favored occurrence of accessible experiences via sound design strategies by focusing on three main methodologies. The first is adding sound effects to provide insights on actions, highlight the presence of establishing shots, transmit abstract scenes as well as indicate the presence of characters, place, and time. The second method involves the use of 3D sound over headphones to enable conveyance of position of objects and characters displayed on the screen. Lastly, the use of first-person speech to depict aspects that cannot be conveyed via sound effects such as gestures, feelings, colors as well as certain actions.
A case study in the form of short film Pearl undertaken to explore the effectiveness of the new techniques that was conducted in association with students of the University.