Authors: Lucy Jiang, Mahika Phutane, Shiri Azenkot.

While traditional videos are typically made accessible with audio description (AD), we lack understanding on how to make 360° videos accessible while preserving their immersive nature. Through individual interviews and collaborative design workshops, we explore ways to improve 360° video accessibility beyond applying traditional AD methods. We conducted design workshops with BLV and sighted AD creators who collaboratively develop accessible 360° video prototypes. 

We found that AD experts value accurate vocabulary and different points of view for immersive descriptions, prefer a variety of presentation locations for spatialized AD, appreciate sound effects for setting the mood and subtly guiding users, and wish to engage multiple senses to boost engagement. We conclude with implications for accessible immersive media accessibility and future research directions to support disabled people as creators of access technology.

Beyond Audio Description: Exploring 360° Video Accessibility with Blind and Low Vision Users Through Collaborative Creation. Lucy Jiang, Mahika Phutane and Shiri Azenkot. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA. Accessible 360° Videos Should Be Immersive Prior work incorporated AD into 360° viewing experiences (Fidyka et al. 2021, Fleet & Herndon 2020, ImAc Project), but did not consider haptic and tactile feedback or examine BLV users’ immersion and engagement. Research Questions How can we make 360° videos accessible? How can AD best support accessible and immersive 360° video experiences? What additional feedback could support the accessibility of 360° videos? How and why should BLV people engage in the AD creation process? Method: Interviews and Design Workshops Interviews Individual and virtual 13 participants with varying AD expertise 2 video probes Brainstormed AD styles and interactions Design Workshops Collaborative and in person 9 participants, 2 workshops Wrote AD script prototypes in mixed-ability groups Included descriptions and audio cues Findings: Multiple Elements Worked Together to Increase Engagement Descriptions & Audio Cues from Workshop Prototypes Description: As Mario, we* watch Luigi, a tall thin plumber with a large mustache in a green hat, in a tub plunging a bathtub drain. Cue: Suction cup plunging and spatialized AD * Changing the AD point of view to first person conveys both immersion and embodiment Description: We slide through a green tunnel. Cue: Hollow echo (curve midrange, high frequency cutoff, small room) & water (mixed back) Description: We land on a grass patch, surrounded by mushrooms, some the size of a house, some the size of a leg. Cue: Dead spots of mushrooms (absence of sound) & boing from mushroom spring and landing Multisensory Interactions & Sound Design Spatialized sound, speech, and earcons helped with understanding and orientation Haptic and tactile feedback could indicate proximity or actions Additional Description Preferences Characters could serve as narrators Narrators impacted cultural authenticity Get in touch! @LucyAJiang

Research poster for 360 Audio Descriptions. Click to access Google Slides version.

360 Audio Description Demo