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Description Key - Resources

  1. General
  2. Guidance/Practices
  3. Vocabulary-Online Resources
  4. Vocabulary-Print Resources
  5. Code of Conduct for Describers


Bringing Video Description Into the 21st Century—Webinar

Offers an overview of description, how description can be used in the classroom, the progress of the Video Description Research and Development Center in the design of new description technologies, and special webinar resources.

"Do It Yourself" Educational Description: Guidelines and Tools—Webinar

A resource for teachers, administrators, and parents who want to learn about the latest developments in video description technology and how it can help students who are blind and visually-impaired in educational settings.

YouDescribe – You Have a Microphone...You Have YouTube...You Can Do It! How You Can Add Audio Description to Any YouTube Video—Webinar

Learn about YouDescribe, the exciting new tool developed by the Video Description Research and Development Center (VDRDC). It is a FREE tool that anyone can use to add description to YouTube videos. YouDescribe includes everything needed to create description; all you need to provide is a microphone.

STEM Description Vocabulary Project for Early Learners

Developed through partnership between DCMP and ACB, this list is a resource for identifying grade-appropriate vocabulary words for early learners to be used in description, with a concentration on STEM content.

"Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books" (a.k.a. STEM Description Guidelines)

A resource for describing the still images and graphics commonly found in academic textbooks, prepared by WGBH's Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). NCAM provides free webinars to those interested in implementing these guidelines, as well as an on-demand archived webinar (in Quicktime MOV format) available to anyone, at any time.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability Formula

A resource to help evaluate levels of the language created, built into recent versions of Microsoft Word.



The Audio Description Coalition Standards

The Media Access Group at WGBH Strategies and Techniques


Vocabulary-Online Resources

Merriam-Webster Online (

From an online dictionary and thesaurus to pronunciation guide, the Merriam-Webster website is a handy guide for anyone with a question about language or word choice. For quick and easy reference, you can download one of Merriam-Webster's browser plugins so that this comprehensive resource is never more than a click away.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (

Another dictionary website, which also includes a thesaurus and pronunciation guide. Like Merriam-Webster, audio pronunciations are provided alongside phonetic spellings of queried words.

Voice of America Pronunciation Guide (

This guide is a resource that will help English speakers pronounce difficult foreign names (both people and places). Includes a searchable database of names, with results provided phonetically and as MP3 clips.

Voice of America Word Book

The Word Book has a core vocabulary of 1,500 words. Most are simple words that describe objects, actions or emotions. Developed for the English as a Second Language population, users are encouraged to discover and learn about "Words and Their Stories."


Vocabulary-Print Resources

Roget's Descriptive Word Finder by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph.D.

A "dictionary and thesaurus devoted exclusively to adjectives," containing thousands of entries (in 572 categories) for describing people, places, and things, organized by theme and topic.

The Describer's Dictionary: A Treasury of Terms and Literary Quotations by David Grambs

Similar to Roget's Descriptive Word Finder, The Describer's Dictionary serves as a categorized reference of "vivid" words and phrases, along with passages from classic English and American literature to serve as inspiration for those who wish to "paint pictures with the English language."

Descriptionary by Marc McCutcheon

From the Facts on File Library of Language and Literature, Descriptionary is "the book for when you know what it is, but not what it's called." Another dictionary/thesaurus hybrid of sorts, this book categorizes words (and definitions) under subject headings for quick reference.

Ultimate Visual Dictionary by DK Publishing

6,000 photographs and 1,000 detailed visuals provide a visual link between subjects and systems and their components. From the Universe to Modern Architecture, 670 illustrated and annotated pages go beyond traditional dictionary definitions to dissect and explain how things work.


Code of Conduct for Describers


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