Practical Ecommerce

Accessibility: Use Audio To Describe Your Products

On Memorial Day my wife and I went to see the new Indiana Jones
film. You might find that odd, a blind person going to the movies. But
it’s possible, thanks to audio-description technology, which allows the
blind to follow what happens on-screen.

It got me thinking: How could such a service benefit online retailers?

Audio clips are inexpensive and effective

Take DVD sales outlets. A large number of people with visual impairments
are seniors, many of whom are looking to purchase movies for their
grandchildren. What better way for a DVD merchant to promote these films than by providing audio descriptions of them to the visually impaired grandparents?

The process isn’t difficult, and adapting clips by using inexpensive editing software to provide your own voiceover is, in fact, simple. A brief audio narration can describe the humor in a scene (whether it is age-appropriate or the nature of characters) far better than any three-line text blurb.

With the expanding use of Flash and video, just about any product can be
enhanced with audio-description.

Audio (and video) can increase sales

I was recently shopping for a gift. On one site I found a
thorough description of a device I was considering, a DVR recorder to
record TV programs. The site even offered diagrams detailing how to
install the device. How many more people, I wonder, would have ordered
if there were a Flash audio and video showing somebody installing it? Simple descriptions, such as, “The DVR recorder comes with three cables. The device is ten inches across and weighs four pounds, and fits on top of
the average TV set. There are three jacks, which correspond with the RCA
jacks on any cable-ready TV.”

Think about it. If you were selling this device, and had invested the time to write up all the documentation, how many non-technophiles might have been swayed by watching and listening to somebody install the device in two minutes?

One market already uses such a feature: Made for TV commercials commonly explain both visually and audibly the usage of particular merchandise or services.

There’s hardly a product I can imagine that wouldn’t be made more
appealing to the visually-disabled consumer. With Flash and video so
popular, making a few simple adaptations for this clientele is
guaranteed to pay dividends.

Joseph Monks

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Comment ( 1 )

  1. Legacy User June 11, 2008 Reply

    All movies in movie theaters should be open captioned or closed captioned so that the deaf and hard of hearing community can finally be part of the real world. Experiment by using ear plugs and see how much of the movie is understandable and enjoyed. In one word: none.

    — *Stephanie Walsh*