What is AudioDescription

The definition of audiodescription can be reported to different fields of study. In the field of semiotics we can define the audio description as a branch of audiovisual translation that reproduces a message from one perceptive channel to another. In a sense, we can talk about intersemiotic translation, that is, the translation of a message from one symbolic language to another and specifically the translation of a visual message into a verbal message that has the same meaning. In particular, intersemiotic translation, as originally proposed by R. Jakobson, refers to the translation of a linguistic sign by means of non-linguistic signs, while the audiodescription works in the opposite direction, and is a form of audiovisual translation because it acts like a copy for visual communication, acquiring a narrative function (Perego, 2014). In the specific area of media accessibility, on the other hand, audio description is considered a means of supporting the communication of a message that cannot be fully understood in the presence of a particular disability. It is clear that in this sense we refer above all to visual disability, which inevitably implies a loss of information in the use of a message in which there is a coexistence of two or more communication channels (video, text, audio, still images or in movement, etc. ..). Not knowing the context in which a dialogue or action takes place leads to distorted information, followed by an understanding that is equally insufficient or misunderstood. We can also think of the use of audio descriptions at events such as parades, funerals or weddings, circus shows, sporting events and so on, similar to what happens for the radio broadcast of a live event: to understand the importance of having an audio description of the visual component in similar situations, just think of the number of situations in which the show is the action itself, not supplemented by verbal explanations.

We then define the audio description, in this context of accessibility, as a description of visual information relevant to the understanding of a situation, through the use of phrases and words as neutral as possible. An important clarification, however, must be made with reference to the filmic narrative, because defining the audio description as a simple “description of what is seen” has important implications for its possible interference with the illusion of reality that characterizes the cinematographic dimension. The narration is in fact a chain of events in a cause-effect relationship in a space-time context, and the agents of cause and effect are characters with objectives, beliefs and emotions (Bordwell and Thompson in Orero, Cintas and Remael, 2007). Therefore, we can expect the CEO to focus on providing information that is necessary and complementary to the dialogue so that the public can understand who is doing what, where and why. However, this implies the consideration of issues of no small importance linked to the How, When and How much to describe, in order to respect the original narrative. Commonly, audio description scripts give information about the appearance of the characters, their focus, interpersonal interactions, changing places of characters or objects and emotional states.