Guide UniDescription Guide

This is the first rule of description: what you see is what you describe. One sees physical appearances and actions; one does not see motivations or intentions. Never describe what you think you see.

We see “Mary clenches her fists.” We do not see “Mary is angry”—or worse, “Mary is angry with John.”

Preview the material with an eye toward including the visual information that is inaccessible to people who are blind or have low vision. These include key plot elements, people, places, actions, objects, unknown sound sources, etc. not mentioned in the dialogue or made obvious by what one hears. Concentrate on that which is the most significant and least obvious from the dialogue or other audio information. Describing everything is impossible—describe what is essential in the allowable time.

Mention who answers the phone—not that the phone is ringing. It’s not necessary to describe obvious sound cues.

Describe essentials first and then, as time permits, describe further elements such as the decorative details of the settings, the physical appearance and mannerisms of the characters, architecture, clothing style, technology, color, light and texture. This sort of description works well during long pauses in the action or during scene changes.

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