Autistic Spectrum, Captions and Audio Description
Researcher and author Judith Garman looked at these two aspects of the autistic spectrum: 1) understanding human emotion and engagement; 2) momotropism. She then examined how audio description and captions could help with these problems. First, Audio description was originally designed for people who are visually impaired. Where it helps someone on the autistic spectrum is it identifies the emotion which may be difficult for them to pin down, and it also provides another input track to reinforce the information. If the person is struggling to identify the different people in the scene, audio description names the person so the visuals and the audio help create a complete picture. Second, captions also provide a reinforcement of what is going on visually and what is being said. Captions should identify the speaker and what’s being said, identify other sounds (birds singing, car tires screeching, etc.) and song lyrics. For somebody who is on the autistic spectrum captions give a greater depth of understanding and context by providing a second input stream. People on the autistic spectrum may struggle with audio processing, that is filtering out different sounds and distinguishing between what’s relevant and what is not relevant. If there is an audio overload, all or most of the audio could be rendered totally meaningless without captions to provide a backup.