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LiveDescribe: Can Amateur Describers Create High-Quality Audio Description?
Abstract: Structured Abstract: Introduction: The study presented here evaluated the usability of the audio description software LiveDescribe and explored the acceptance rates of audio description created by amateur describers who used LiveDescribe to facilitate the creation of their descriptions. Methods: Twelve amateur describers with little or no previous experience with audio description used the software LiveDescribe to describe a single episode of a 20-minute comedy show. Seventy-five reviewers who were blind, had low vision, or were sighted then rated the descriptions using a number of criteria, including overall quality and entertainment value. Results: LiveDescribe was found to be easy to use and useful. Three of the 12 describers produced descriptions that were rated as of good overall quality, 6 produced descriptions that were rated as of medium quality, and 3 produced descriptions that were rated as of poor quality. Discussion: These findings indicate that amateur description is feasible even with minimal training in either description itself or LiveDescribe. Audiences' preferences for description seem to be based on various characteristics of describers, such as the describers' vernacular and tone of voice and the length and timing of the descriptions. Implications for practitioners: If amateur description is indeed feasible, the quantity of audio descriptions that are available to the general public could be increased significantly. A great deal of informal description is already created by families and friends of individuals who are visually impaired through the “whisper method.” If this description process could be captured and formalized through a tool such as LiveDescribe and shared through the Internet, many more descriptions could be made available.
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