Audio description: what it is and why study it

This project has move to Tampere University

Please, visit the new website at 




  • is the translation of images into words, sometimes involving collaboration between blind and sighted persons
  • an audible spoken track embedded in a film, video, TV program, audio guide, etc.
  • a descriptive text of visual information or representation
  • an assistive service and a tool for blind and visually impaired people – and for anyone who cannot or does not want to watch

Follow these links to get more information and samples of audio description (in Finland):


Audio description, involving communication in language, images, speech and sound as well as people with distinct perceptual capacities, furnishes a wealth of research issues and touches upon various fields of research. All of them are, moreover, socially relevant as they are geared towards increasing knowledge of human communication and interaction. In fact, by looking at this phenomenon which might seem marginal at first sight – serving “only” the few hundred million blind people in the world – will prove fundamental and therefore massive in its very basic question:

  • How do people conceptualise and verbalise the non-verbal world, and therefore their ideas?
  • How are moving and static images being transformed into words by people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds?
  • What can the descriptions and the act of describing reveal about cognition?
  • How can we reach a mutual understanding of something to which we have different perceptual access?

In this era of multimodal, audiovisual communication, translation is going beyond overcoming linguistic and cultural barriers and facing the issue of transforming information presented in one communication mode into another.

Watch my talk (in Finnish!) at the Young Academy of Finland about the exciting ways the research on audio description and blindness lead to: