Date published:

Training audio description specialists

Iwona Mazur & Agnieszka Chmiel (2021): Audio description training: A snapshot of the current practices. The Interpreter and Translator Training 15(1), pp. 51-65,


Audio description (AD) is a form of audiovisual translation consisting in making visual content accessible to persons with sight loss. Given the growing social awareness of equal treatment of all citizens and following the implementation of relevant laws, we have witnessed an increased demand for audio description services. More and more television broadcasters, streaming platforms, museums and organisers of sport events decide to make their content accessible also for persons with blindness and low vision. This, in turn, has boosted demand for professional audio describers. As a result, AD courses have sprung up, both in the form of university courses and professional in-house training.

In the article an overview of 192 AD courses was presented, based on surveys conducted among 86 AD trainers worldwide. The research was carried out as part of the European project ADLAB PRO Audio Description: A Laboratory for the Development of a New Professional Profile (2016-2019), whose partners were universities as well as service providers from six European countries: Belgium, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, and the UK. The survey elicited information concerning the courses (the number of students, course duration, teaching mode, etc.), trainers (their education, experience, the AD type they teach, etc.), as well as specific information concerning skills acquired during the courses, the activities and tasks performed, as well as competences and transferrable skills which the trainers deem important for the profession of the audio describer.

Results obtained for university courses have been juxtaposed with those obtained for in-house training. It was shown that both course types are very practical and do not differ significantly. The only two statistically significant differences encountered were the group size and the importance of vocal skills, which was higher in the case of professional courses. IT-related skills, such as using special software, were not prioritised in either of the two types of courses.