The White House Announces Audio Descriptions for Public Tours

The logo of the White House

On January 24, 2013, the White House Visitors Office announced the availability of an audio described White House tour, in response to the ongoing accessibility concerns and needs of Americans who are blind, visually impaired, have low vision, or are otherwise print-disabled.

Here is more information from the White House blog:

The White House Announces Audio Descriptions for Public Tours

President Obama and the First Lady have long been committed to ensuring that the White House is truly the People’s House, and that Americans with disabilities are fully integrated into our society.

Today, continuing on that commitment, the White House Visitors Office is pleased to announce the availability of an audio description for those taking a White House tour. This will give blind and visually impaired Americans and persons with other print disabilities the opportunity to listen to an audio described tour as they visit the historic public rooms of the White House.

The audio tour features welcoming remarks from Mrs. Obama, followed by a room-by-room audio description of the highlights and features of the White House. The audio tours are only available on MP3 players that will be provided by the White House to those requesting the audio tour.

The players must be requested at the time the request for a tour is made through a Member of Congress, and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals must return the MP3 players at the conclusion of the tour.

Information about White House Tours

Public tours of the White House are currently available and requests must be submitted through your Member of Congress. These self-guided tours are available from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Fridays, and 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturdays (excluding federal holidays or unless otherwise noted).

Tour hours will be extended whenever possible, based on the official White House schedule. Tours are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Requests can be submitted up to six months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. You are encouraged to submit your request as early as possible, since a limited number of spaces are available. All White House tours are free of charge. (Please note that White House tours may be subject to last minute cancellation.)

If you wish to visit the White House and are a citizen of a foreign country, please contact your embassy in Washington, DC for assistance in submitting a tour request.

Additional Information

You can read the entire blog post on the official White House blog, while the White House Visitors Office provides additional information about White House tours and events.

On and the VisionAware blog, you can find information about audio description for persons who are blind or visually impaired; the White House Disability Group and the Office of Public Engagement; and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations for television and video description for blind and visually impaired viewers.


 Logo of the American Council of the Blind

Via a press release from the American Council of the Blind (ACB):

ACB’s Audio Description Project (ADP) spearheaded the effort to create an audio described recording to be used during public tours of The White House. The tour was written by the ADP’s director, Joel Snyder, and is voiced by long-time Washington, DC radio personality Ed Walker (blind since early childhood, former radio partner of Willard Scott).

The mission of ACB’s Audio Description Project (ADP) is to boost levels of description activity and disseminate information on that work throughout the nation. The primary goal of the ADP is to sponsor a broad range of activities designed to build awareness of audio description among the general public as well as its principal users, people who are blind or have low vision. You can read more about the ADP at ACB’s Audio Description Project website.