8-5.1 Rationale

Whereas section 8-3 addresses the secondary audio program (SAP) playback circuitry necessary to decode audio descriptions, this requirement addresses the techniques used to author and encode the audio description content in video or multimedia productions widely distributed via Postal Service television, Web sites, and other information systems.

Where possible, the Postal Service provides audio description for any video or multimedia production that is distributed externally or that is considered critical to the Postal Service's mission. Such productions include, but are not limited to, those used in training, product or service demos, health or safety videos, or advertising produced for distribution on television or the Internet. In applicable productions, the visual portions necessary for the comprehension of the production's content must be audio described so people who are blind or visually impaired can access them.

Audio description is a method for making certain visual aspects in television, videos, multimedia productions, and live performances accessible to people who are blind, visually impaired, or cognitively impaired. “Multimedia productions” refers to productions that present information in more than one sensory mode (i.e., both audibly and visually), regardless of delivery method. For instance, streaming video presented via the Web with a soundtrack and a Macromedia Flash demo of a Postal Service Web application that uses both visual animation and audio narration are both considered multimedia productions.

There are two kinds of audio description that are used to provide access to visual portions of video and multimedia productions that are critical for their comprehension: open audio description and closed audio description (see the Glossary for definitions of these terms).

The advantages of audio descriptions cited most by blind and visually impaired viewers include the following: