Creating Described Video for Broadcast Media

Focus Area Six
Live Description

Image: Two staff members produce live description during a live event.


Describing video during a live event offers a new set of challenges that don’t exist with pre-recorded video content. In 2015, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) and Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) led a committee to create and distribute a set of guidelines for audio describing live events. In this section, we will look into how live description is done, and what the technical and creative best practices are as defined by this committee.

Developing an Understanding

Descriptive Video Works (featured in Focus Area Two) is the pioneer of live descriptive video, making live programs accessible for blind and low vision audiences for the first time ever in Canada (AMI, 2015).

Live description has many of the same characteristics as standard described video. The main difference is that live description happens in real-time during a live event. AMI has done live description for the most recent Royal Wedding between Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Middleton, Toronto Blue Jays Baseball games, the Canadian Federal election, the London 2012 Summer Paralympics and the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics, the Canadian Screen Awards, Aboriginal Day Live & Celebration 2014, and many more (AMI, 2016; Media Access Australia, 2014).

There are guidelines for best practices when live describing an event. Robert Pearson, former Chair of the Described Video Best Practices Committee, said the guidelines give advice to many aspects of live description, including how to prepare ahead of time for the live event, while also suggesting “the describer should expect the unexpected” (Media Access Australia, 2014).

Best Practice Book

Image: Best Practice Book.

Click here for the described video best practices guide.