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Creating Audio Description: Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion

Explore how to design and create audio descriptions and audio introductions that fully represent a film, play, or TV programme.

2,033 enrolled on this course

a young black woman in 3 poses: she uses her hands to cover first her ears, then her eyes, then her mouth.
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Design inclusive audio descriptions for film, theatre, and TV

Audio description (AD) is a key means by which the full diversity of a programme, film, or live performance can be conveyed, allowing for greater participation and engagement from audiences.

On this course, you’ll discover how to approach creating inclusive audio description that encapsulates and promotes equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

Improve your cultural awareness training for film, TV, and theatre

You’ll assess how audio introduction and audio description play a vital role in the promotion and communication of EDI to the audience, building your cultural awareness and competency in the process.

Learn how to describe the role and value of inclusive audio descriptions and introductions to a range of arts stakeholders, including audiences, theatre professionals, and funders.

Examine the audio description experience from different perspectives

Assessing the part audio description plays in the promotion and communication of EDI, you’ll examine audio description from both a describer and a performer’s perspective.

You’ll evaluate insights from multiple individuals (including blind/partially blind audience members, audio describers, and theatre professionals) and reflect on your own understanding of EDI.

Study EDI with experts at Royal Holloway, University of London

After conducting the 2019-2020 research project and subsequent report ‘Describing Diversity’ about diversity in audio description and audio introduction in theatre, educators at Royal Holloway are well placed to guide you in the nuance of this topic.

This course brings together the best practices, case studies, and learning resources from this research, allowing you to approach diversity in theatre and beyond with practical tools and enhanced confidence.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds FutureLearn and Royal Holloway University presents Creating Audio Description– Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. Hello. I’m Hannah Thompson from Royal Holloway. I’m a white woman in my late 40s. I’m wearing a black dress, and I’m carrying a white cane. In film, television, and theatre, a huge range of professionals from casting directors to costume designers, makeup artists to location managers, spend a lot of time and money creating the perfect look for their production. An important part of this work is ensuring that the rich diversity of 21st century society is captured on stage and screen. Representing people of different ages, genders, races, and body shapes, as well as disabled and nondisabled people is at the heart of inclusive casting. I’m a translation studies specialist.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 seconds I’m partially blind, and I’m passionate about audio description. Join me in this course as we explore how to describe diversity. We will ask what is at stake when we choose to describe or to not describe an actor’s physical appearance. There are several ways to describe this image. We could say that it shows a person in three different poses, using their hands to cover first their ears, then their eyes, then their mouth. But what happens if we say it’s a Black person, or a Black woman, or a young, Black woman? The language we choose to use matters because every word creates a different impression. Every word carries a range of meanings which are often unwittingly communicated to audio description users.

Skip to 2 minutes and 2 seconds Join me in this course as we explore how audio description can navigate these pitfalls in ethical and inclusive ways. Royal Holloway University, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and VocalEyes.


  • Week 1

    Understanding Audio Description and its relationship with Equality Diversity and Inclusion

    • Welcome

      Meet the course creators and share any experience you may have of Audio Description.

    • Understand what Audio Description is and where it is used

      Learn what Audio Description is and how it makes theatre-going accessible to blind and partially blind people

    • What are Inclusive Audio Introductions and Audio Descriptions?

      Learn how Audio Description is delivered in theatres and how this helps blind and partially blind audiences develop their understanding of the setting and characters.

    • Understanding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

      Here, we will learn about the protected characteristics and how they might be relevant to AD. We will hear from a Casting Director about the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in casting and discuss the implications.

    • End of Week 1

      An end of week quiz to allow you to test your knowledge and understanding, and for us to provide you with feedback.

  • Week 2

    Understanding Inclusive AIs and AD

    • Meet a User

      AD users discuss a Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe, and their views on the AD that they listened to. We will explore an Audio Introduction both with & without this information and discuss what difference it makes.

    • Meet a Describer

      Learn from three Audio Describers as they discuss describing diversity & the specific challenges they face. We’ll then explore some AIs and to think about the decisions made by Audio Describers.

    • Meet an Actor

      This activity will get you thinking about Audio Description from an actor’s point of view. How might it feel to be described?

    • Meet an Artistic Director

      Meet Maria Oshodi, CEO & Artistic Director of Extant, the UK’s leading performing arts company of visually impaired artists & theatre practitioners. We learn more about integrated AD the benefits of inclusive AD for theatres.

    • Meet a TV describer

      Here we introduce you to Audio Description for TV and how it differs to Audio Description for theatres.

  • Week 3

    Describing Diversity

    • Default Assumptions

      Why might setting a default for a production help with the Audio Description? Read on to find out.

    • Understanding Micro-Aggressive Language

      Here we explain what micro-aggressions are and how can they be avoided in Audio Description.

    • Inclusive Casting

      We return to the concept of inclusive casting and think about how it relates to Audio Description. We will discuss what we stand to lose or gain by describing inclusive casting.

    • Thinking about positionality

      Here, we think about Audio Description as a kind of translation and which techniques or strategies describers can borrow from translation to help them.

    • Exploring cultural competency

      We explore the concept of cultural competency and its relationship to Audio Description.

    • End of Week 3

      An end of week quiz to allow you to test your knowledge and understanding, and for us to provide you with feedback.

  • Week 4

    Creating and promoting inclusive AIs and AD

    • Self-description

      How can we all help to make online and in-person meetings more inclusive? Read on to find out and to have a go.

    • Creating a new AI

      Over to you! In this activity you’ll bring together everything you have learned and you’ll produce an inclusive Audio Introduction for the media of your choice.

    • Promoting inclusive AI/AD to others

      We take a final look at why inclusion in Audio Description matters, and who it can impact upon.

    • Bringing it all together

      Time to sum up!

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain the value of inclusive audio descriptions and introductions to a range of stakeholders including audiences, theatre professionals and funders
  • Demonstrate the role of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the development and delivery of film/theatre audio introductions and audio descriptions
  • Assess the role of the audio introduction and the audio description in the promotion and communication of equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Design inclusive audio descriptions and audio introductions for a range of media
  • Evaluate insights from multiple stakeholders (blind/partially blind audience members, audio describers, theatre professionals)
  • Reflect on their own understanding of equality, diversity and inclusivity in their own and others’ audio descriptions and audio introductions

Who is the course for?

This cultural awareness course would appeal to professionals working in the creative industries (including film and TV producers and commissioners), audio describers who want to work in theatre AD or enhance their existing knowledge, and theatre professionals.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a partially blind white woman in my late forties. In this image i am wearing glasses and smiling. I am a Professor of French and Critical Disability Studies and passionate about audio description.

I am a white woman in my early 40s. I am wearing black glasses and smiling in this photo. I am a researcher specialising in Audio Description.

Who developed the course?

Royal Holloway, University of London

Queen Victoria presided over the grand opening of Royal Holloway in 1886. Since then the College has continued to grow in size and status to become one of the top research-led institutions in the UK.

Vocal Eyes

VocalEyes brings art and culture to life for blind and visually impaired people at theatres, museums, galleries, heritage sites and online through audio description.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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