What is audio/visual description and do I need to provide this?

Public entities and private businesses have responsibilities under the ADA to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities.  Description of visually presented materials is considered an auxiliary aid or service.

Audio/visual description is a term used to describe the descriptive narration of key visual elements in a video or multimedia product. This process allows individuals who are blind to access content that is not otherwise accessible simply by listening to the audio. In audio description, narrators typically describe actions, gestures, scene changes, and other visual information. They also describe titles, speaker names, and other text that may appear on the screen.

A meeting that is accessible to people with sensory disabilities enables them to understand the meeting’s presentations and to participate in the discussions.

The type of auxiliary aid or service necessary to ensure effective communication at a meeting or event will vary in accordance with the method of communication used by the individual; the nature, length, and complexity of the communication involved; and the context in which the communication is taking place. A private business should consult with individuals with disabilities whenever possible to determine what type of auxiliary aid is needed to ensure effective communication, but the ultimate decision as to what measures to take rests with the private business, provided that the method chosen results in effective communication. However, public entities must give primary consideration to the request of the individuals with disabilities.

If providing a particular auxiliary aid or service at the meeting will result in an undue burden (i.e., will cause significant difficulty or expense) for the organizers, the organizers are not required to provide that exact service. However, they must try to find an alternative auxiliary aid or service that will not result in an undue burden but will ensure that participants with disabilities can participate fully in the session. Talk with the participant to find the best solution.