Dr Dawning Leung, the founder of Audio Description Association (Hong Kong) (AuDeAHK), believes that persons with visual impairment should enjoy the equal rights to “watch” movies, to “view” exhibitions as well as to join various cultural and outdoor activities despite their visual difficulties. “The true meaning of equality and inclusion is not to arrange a dedicated session for the visually impaired, but to make it possible for them to take part in the same activity with their sighted counterparts.”
To study audio description, Dawning left her teaching position in university for the United Kingdom to acquire a relevant Doctorate degree. In 2015, she founded AuDeAHK to promote audio description and to train audio describers in the Chinese societies.
What is audio description? According to Dawning, it is a school of professional translation technique of transferring visual elements into verbal descriptions. In film audio description, for instance, audio describers will depict the scene settings and the characters’ moves, facial expressions, outfits etc. in between dialogues and sound effects. The visually impaired may hence comprehend the plot by hearing rather than by watching.
Audio description benefits not only persons with visual difficulties. Everyone can obtain supplementing information from the translated visual contents. For example, children with special educational needs may understand the emotions of characters through audio description. “I recalled a lady wearing a pair of reading glasses who followed our audio described tour in a museum. Towards the end of the tour, she took off the glasses and said, ‘I’d rather listen to your narratives!’”
Having strived to promote audio description for years, Dawning admits that it takes time for the public to understand social innovation. She points out three essences for social innovation projects to succeed. Firstly, substantial efforts in publicity and promotion. Secondly, be open-minded and apply knowledge to new fields through cross-sectoral collaboration. AuDeAHK has partnered with the social innovation venture “Rolling Books” to publish picture books with braille and audio description; it has also provided audio description training to football coaches to serve at live broadcast for the FIFA World Cup. “Lastly, be perseverant; don’t give up even in face of financial difficulties and other challenges.”
- The SIE Fund has provided funding for the "Film Audio Description Services", “Audio Description Services for Outdoor Activities” and “Audio Description Services for Museums” projects of the Audio Description Association (Hong Kong) Limited.
Scope of Services
- The visually impaired “watched” a live football match with the aid of audio description (Apple Daily 17/07/2020) (Chinese only)
- Hong Kong publisher adds audio and tactile elements to children’s books to make reading more fun for all (South China Morning Post 06/11/2019)
- Audio Description Services for Museums (YouTube 28/03/2019)
- Audio Describer helps the blind to ‘see’ the world (Sky Post 13/12/2018) (Chinese only)