Audio-Description of TV commercials is a real challenge for brands, but an essential tool for visually impaired people to access information and keep up to date with societal developments through the advertising spectrum.
Find out if audio description of an advertisement is mandatory and the rules to apply.
Article Summary: More inclusive advertising with TV commercials audio description
- What is audio description?
- Is audio description mandatory in advertising?
- Why use audio description in an ad?
- What are the rules to follow when audio-describing an advertisement?
- Examples of audio description ethical rules according to the ARPP
- Examples of advertisements using audio description
What is audio description?
Audio description (AD) consists of all the methods used to give visually impaired or blind people access to visual content in cinema or television. In short, a voice-over describes the setting, the atmosphere, the texts that appear on screen.
Is audio description mandatory in advertising?
The law of September 30, 1986 modified by the law of March 5, 2009, relating to the audiovisual communication and the new public service of television, requires the main television channels to use audiodescription during the broadcasting of cinematographic and audiovisual work.
This obligation does not concern advertising: it can be broadcast on television without AD for blind or visually impaired people.
Why use audio description in an ad?
Audio description allows blind or visually impaired people to access information that is easily accessible to a sighted public, in order to better understand the products and services offered to them.
In addition, the study conducted by the Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP)* reveals that among individuals who believe that audio description is important, 3 out of 4 consider that AD by a brand has a positive influence on their perception of it.
*Study conducted in collaboration with the Confédération française pour la promotion sociale des aveugles et amblyopes (CFPSAA) and the association SJBK - Sébastien Joachim Kicks Blindness, October 2021
What are the rules to follow when audio-describing an advertisement?
With this in mind, ARPP has decided to publish a guide about audio description of TV ads on December 3, 2021.
ARPP sets out five principles of audio description with the aim of protecting both visually impaired and blind people and brands and their creative process:
- Inclusivity: "No consumer should be excluded from the scope of the rules ensuring their protection because of their disability. [...] No sector can be considered less appropriate than others for audio description."
- The choice of brands: "To facilitate its implementation [the implementation of AD], the relevant specialists in the sector are involved and it can be decided."
- Respect for the creative idea and brand strategy: "In the process of its creation, the specificity of audio description must therefore be sufficiently considered in order to align the description with the creative idea."
- The quality of the audio description: "The audio description must be accurate while remaining intelligible."
- The effective protection of the visually impaired: "No consumer can be excluded from the rules aimed at their protection, which must/should be able to be accommodated, if necessary."
Examples of audio description ethical rules according to the ARPP
The ARPP's recommendations concerning the audiodescription of TV advertisements are established with regard to the ethical and regulatory provisions in force.
On the French language
Text: "Law of 4 August 1994 on the use of the French language"
Application by ARPP / "To be modified" notices issued: "Notice to be modified issued for any use of a foreign term necessary for the understanding of the commercial argument or the comedy part, not accompanied by a legible translation into French."
Audiodescription recommendation: "The audiodescriber should be vigilant about the use of foreign terms in his or her writing proposal, and always favor French language equivalents."
Text: ARPP Recommendation "Safety: dangerous situations and behaviors"
Application by the ARPP / "To be modified" notices rendered: "Notice to be modified rendered in the presence of a staging representing characters in reproducible situations considered as dangerous. The rule applies on a case-by-case basis, so that a particularly offbeat or dreamlike staging can defuse certain issues by disconnecting the action of the scene from reality."
Audiodescription recommendation: "The audiodescriber should avoid any lexical choice suggesting that the characters are in a dangerous situation ("leans close to the edge"...). On the contrary, he is encouraged to retranscribe by his choice of terms the particularly dreamlike and offbeat character of certain scenes in order to defuse their dangerous aspect."
Text: "Law of 10 January 1991 in its part relating to the fight against alcoholism".
Application by ARPP / "To be modified" notices issued: "Notice to be modified issued for any visual or audio reference to alcoholic products."
Audiodescription recommendation: "The description should avoid incorporating references to alcoholic products (ex:
- champagne flutes
- wine glasses
- a beer tap)."
Examples of advertisements using audio description
L'Institut de la Vision (The Institute of Vision)