Audio description tech needed across TV advertising, says RNIB

The sight loss charity is urging all those adverting on TV to ensure their content is audio description enabled.

Joe Lepper | 12th Nov 19

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) wants businesses to ensure they are enabling audio description tech for their TV advertising content.

The call has been made as retail advertising steps up ahead of Christmas. However, around two million people with sight loss are potentially excluded as adverts across TV platforms are not being produced with audio description, says the charity.

Audio description is additional commentary that explains to those with sight loss what is happening on screen. This includes body language, expressions and movements. It is a secondary audio track that can be activated across TV platforms.

“There is absolutely no reason why retailers can’t audio describe their adverts so that blind and partially sighted people are included at Christmas,” said RNIB Chief Executive Matt Stringer.

“It’s easy to produce at a tiny fraction of the budget that big brands spend on their adverting campaigns. They are also missing out on marketing their products and services to up to two million people, which makes no sense at all.

“Christmas TV adverts are fast becoming an essential part of the UK’s festive culture and we believe that everyone should be able to take part in the conversation around them, no matter how they see.”

ASDA among those using audio description

Among big businesses already commited to using AD tech for its advertising is consumer giant Proctor & Gamble. This year ASDA has confirmed to the charity that they are adding AD to its adverts.

In 2017 Channel 4 linked up with the RNIB and advertisers to show viewers what an ad break is like for those living with sight loss. All five commercials during one advertising break were repeated with AD.

Stringer added: “We’d also encourage retailers to make all of their future adverts accessible. In the UK we have a flourishing industry of AD providers, with several brands already having started to provide audio describing for their TV commercials.

“It is one of the most straightforward and reasonable assets to produce and RNIB will be happy to support retailers on this journey, which in turn will help them reach a wider audience and grow their brand.”