Ottawa·Described video

Bringing video to life for the blind

When CBC Ottawa put together a story about a blind man who came to Canada as a refugee, we wanted to make sure he had access to it, too. We asked Descriptive Video Works to put together a described video version of the story.

To help tell the story of a blind refugee's journey to Canada, CBC Ottawa created this described video

Mustafa Al Humairi shares his story of how a blind refugee came to work as an Apple employee. This is a described video — listen to hear gaps where visuals are explained for people with visual impairment. 4:17

If you're blind, the idea of listening to a video without the benefit of the images doesn't hold much appeal. But increasingly, broadcasters are adapting their programming to help fill that gap and make video more accessible to the visually impaired.

It's known as "described video," when a voiceover is added to an existing video, usually in the spots between the dialogue. The narrator describes settings, costume and body language to help make listening to the video a richer experience.

When CBC Ottawa put together this story about a blind man who came to Canada as a refugee, we wanted to make sure he had access to the story, too. So we asked Descriptive Video Works to put together a described video version of the story.

The Vancouver company is at the forefront of this area, creating described video versions of such high-profile shows as Downton Abbey, House of Cards and Narcos.

You can also watch a version of Mustafa Al Humairi's story without described video below to compare the experience.

Watch how Mustafa Al Humairi went from blind asylum seeker to Apple Store employee. Compare this version to the described video to understand the experience of 'watching a video' for a visually-impaired person. 4:14

About the Author

Ash Abraham

CBC Ottawa Reporter

Ash Abraham welcomes story ideas and tips at ash.abraham@cbc.ca