Making popular science accessible: Uncovering AD skills and competences

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review


The paper focuses on skills and competences used in audio description (AD) of a Swedish popular scientific journal. The journal, containing complex images and visualizations, is made accessible for visually impaired audiences by producing an audio version. The task is to create a verbal description to enhance understanding and enjoyment. The interpretative process of meaning-making is uncovered by think-aloud protocols during the task. The protocols are transcribed, coded and analyzed. The aural version is compared to the printed version to show how the content has been realized for the end users. The skills and competences of the audio describer are revealed through a combination of both, the think-aloud protocols and the comparison of the printed and audio versions of the journal.
In result, AD skills in this context include:
(a) Selecting skills. Judgements about relevant information.
(b) Expert knowledge of the subject area.
(c) Knowledge of various types of images and graphics.
(d) Language skills. Various ways of verbalizing visual content.
(e) Integration skills. Combining the contents of the available resources, creating semantic links, filling in the gaps in the interplay.
(c) Interpretation skills. Using conceptual knowledge for interpreting schematic images.
(d) Rhetorical skills. Choosing entry points and reading paths. Re-arranging the order of information for optimal flow and understanding.
(e) Pedagogical skills. Grouping similar information. Creating summaries and introductions to modules.
(f) Facilitating understanding and cognitive processing. Considering working memory capacity of the recipients. Conveying information in ’digestable’ portions. Making the description short and comprehensive. Repeating information for better understanding.
(g) Vocal skills. Using voice, intonation, speech rate, emphasis and pauses to highlight and group information.
(h) Technical skills (studio recording and editing).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019 Jun 19
EventM4A8: 8th Media for All International Conference - Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 2019 Jun 172019 Jun 19
Conference number: 8


Abbreviated titleM4A8
Internet address

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


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