Section 504 symbols    


Video Description uses spoken explanations and descriptions of visual elements that are inserted into a television or video program without interfering with the sounds and dialogue that are a regular part of the program. This service is available on a limited basis on certain cable television channels, on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television shows, commercial broadcast stations, and on videotapes for purchase or rental.

A research project completed by the American Foundation for the Blind in 1997 (partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, grant #H026G40001) studied issues related to video description, and to television and video watching by people who are blind or visually impaired. The following are highlights of that study:

  • Blind and visually impaired people (approximately 3% of the U.S. population) watch television and videotapes about as often as those who are not visually impaired. In addition, their households own televisions and VCRs, and subscribe to cable television, to the same extent as other households. However, many find the experience frustrating.

  • In order to increase their understanding and enjoyment of television shows, people who are blind or visually impaired take various actions including sitting closer to the television set, buying larger television sets, and asking other people questions about what is happening on the screen.

  • Most people who are blind or visually impaired find that their enjoyment of television is increased when sighted companions informally describe the visual aspects of programming to them.

  • The vast majority of those who have experienced formal video description say they would be more likely to watch a television show or video with description than without.

  • The vast majority of blind and visually impaired people who have experienced description say that it is important to their enjoyment of programming.

  • Most people who have watched video description with a sighted person say it rarely or never interferes with the sighted person's enjoyment of programming.

  • People who have experienced video description feel that it affords important benefits, which fall into the categories of enhanced viewing, learning, and social experiences watching television and videotapes.

  • "Dramas or Mysteries" and "Nature or Science" are the two most popular categories of television shows that blind and visually impaired people would like to see described. For videotapes of movies, the most popular categories are "Serious Dramas" and "Documentaries."


symbol used to specify low vision

Access to Low Vision145

This symbol may be used to indicate access for people who are blind or have low vision, including: guided tours, paths to a nature trail, scent gardens in a park, tactile tours or museum exhibitions that may be touched.

accessibility symbol - wheelchair

Accessibility Symbol146

The wheelchair symbol should only be used to indicate access for individuals with limited mobility, including wheelchair users. For example, the symbol is used to indicate accessible entrances, bathrooms, or telephones that have been lowered for wheelchair users. Remember that a ramped entrance is not completely accessible if there are no curb cuts, and an elevator is not accessible if it can only be reached via steps.

large print symbol

Accessible Print147

The symbol for large print is 'Large Print' printed in 18 Point or larger text. In addition to indicating that large print versions of books, pamphlets, museum guides and theater programs are available, the symbol may be used on conference or membership forms to indicate that print materials may be provided in large print. Sans serif or modified serif print with good contrast is highly recommended, and special attention should be paid to letter and word spacing.

assistive listening device symbol

Assistive Listening Systems148

These systems transmit sound via hearing aids or headsets. They include infrared, loop and FM systems. Portable systems may be available from the same audiovisual equipment suppliers that service conferences and meetings.

1 of 2 samples of audio description symbols
2 of 2 audio description samples

Audio Description (Video Description)149,150

There are 2 symbols that are used for this service that makes television, video, film, and live performances more accessible for persons who are blind or have low vision. For televisions and monitors, descriptions of visual elements are provided by a trained Audio Describer using the Secondary Audio Program (SAP).

braille symbol

Braille Symbol151

This symbol indicates that printed matter is available in braille, including exhibition labeling, publications, and signage.

1 of 2 symbols for closed captioning

another sign for closed captioning

Closed Captioning152

These symbols indicate that a television program or videotape is closed captioned. The "CC" (with or without the rounded rectangle surrounding it) is generic and can be used by any company. The second icon that looks like a comic strip speech "balloon" (a rounded rectangle with a small "tail" protruding below) is a registered service mark of the National Captioning Institute (NCI), and is only used for productions that are captioned by NCI.

sign language symbol

Sign Language Interpretation153

The symbol indicates that sign language interpretation is provided for lectures, tours, performances, conferences, or other programs.

symbol for a tty

TTY (Teletypewriter)154

TTYs are also known as text telephones (TTs), or telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDDs). The TTY symbol indicates that TTYs are available.

volume control symbol

Volume Control Telephone155

This symbol indicates that telephone handsets with amplified sound and/or adjustable volume controls are available.

web access symbol

Web Access156

This symbol appears on web sites that have been designed with accessibility features. The symbol should always be used with the following alt-text tag: Web Access Symbol (for people with disabilities).

last reviewed/updated on April 2003 

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