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Audio Description International Conference 2002

Presented by
Audio Description International
and
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
March 23-24, 2002


Standards, Training, and Certification

Facilitator - Craig Dreeszen

Craig summarized discussion on the issue that occurred the previous day and earlier on this day.

Madelyn Dovano clarified that she is not against guidelines. Her concern is that if it's done quickly it would be unclear who should decide "who's in and who's out." She suggested the possibility of a graduated registry listing those who self-identify as describers, those who have had some training, and those who have gone before a committee of this board and had some sort of certification. She also suggested a daytime session at the next gathering where everyone would describe something of their choice. Fred Brack recommends that the word "standards" not be used until the ADI board and organization develops more credibility but rather focus on the establishment of "guidelines." Mike Feltman asked that the Board research existing written guidelines or standards for AD. Jesse Minkert emphasized guiding generally about quality description and training of describers as a benefit to the field and supported open critique sessions. He also the differences between AD in different media or venues and asked that those distinctions be considered. Judy Berk hoped that before anything is developed that a cross-section of how AD is done worldwide would be examined. Elizabeth Kahn suggested working toward standards on the local level through peer review.

Craig asked for and received consensus on the notion that the development of guidelines was desired.

Diane DiSalvo offered that ADI should seek to solidify partnerships with the ACB and other similar organizations in support of AD.

Returning to the idea of listing names of describers on an ADI website, Audley Blackburn expressed caution and suggested that the listing of organizations that offer description was more prudent. Ralph Welsh agreed noting that in that way the local organization would be the entity "certifying" its own work or referral of describers. Jean Marie Moore pointed out that listing "qualified" describers could result in litigation by those who are not listed. Eileen Bagnell's group in Arizona often acts as a clearinghouse recommending describers or interpreters but leaving specific negotiations to the individuals or organizations involved. Anne Hornsby advised that the AD association in England had considered listing individuals, with the individual's consent, but only with a disclaimer stating that no endorsement was implied. Jesse Minkert would not provide ADI with a list of describers that work for him stating that he takes responsibility for their competence and that ADI needed to establish itself and accepted guidelines before it could credibly make referrals or list individual describers. Teddy Primack would only want to be listed as an individual describer rather than as an affiliate of an organization that might receive fees for services he provides without compensating him as the service provider, i.e., he believes describers will only have credibility and be considered professionals if they are compensated for their services. Madelyn Dovano suggested that organizations would only be listed by their request and would agree to "hold ADI harmless." With respect to payment, she suggested that if an individual solicits his or her own work, he or she should receive the entire fee.

Craig noted that as a practical matter ADI may wish to consider organizational memberships as well as memberships for individual describers. Joel Snyder noted that just such a distinction is already provided for in the bylaws.

Craig returned to the opportunity for the group to provide advice to its newly elected board on priorities for its first meeting. He reiterated his listing of nine points for the reorganization of ADI. Ralph Welsh expressed the desire that ADI work toward developing more access to AD on Broadway in New York. He noted that there is just one group that provides limited AD and that Broadway is a national resource and needs more AD availability. Cody Pfanstiehl remarked that Hospital Audiences in New York City is active in bringing hospital patients to Broadway productions and providing AD. Margaret Pfanstiehl noted that that organization's emphasis is on hospital patients although she has pointed out to the group that there is a much larger population that would desire AD at Broadway performances. Joel Snyder noted that he has also advised Hospital Audiences on AD services but that their mission is far larger and that perhaps ADI could encourage other New York-based organizations to provide AD more frequently. An unidentified speaker informed the group that the Theater Development Fund already provides sign interpreters for Broadway shows and he asked about AD for West End productions in London. Anne Hornsby responded that a now-defunct group, LADS (London Audio Description Service), formerly provided AD in the West End but that now Vocal Eyes may soon provide AD services there. Clare Stewart noted that the former service was supported by grants that expired but that Cameron Mackintosh was supportive of AD services at his productions. Joel Snyder expressed the hope that Mr. Mackintosh could persuade other producers in England and in New York to also support AD services. David Baquis commented on the wide availability of assistive listening devices in Broadway theaters and that that represents "a foot in the door." He also suggested that ADI join CCD, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, comprised of national organizations that serve the interests of people with disabilities [www.c-c-d.org].

At this point, election results were announced.

Audley Blackburn offered a motion, seconded by Jesse Minkert, as follows:

"The membership of Audio Description International authorizes its board to draft a resolution supporting the FCC ruling which requires video description for television without further delay."

The motion was accepted unanimously.

Kim Charlson and the entire membership congratulated Betty Siegel and her staff and the planning committee on the success of the Conference and, in particular, the quality and quantity of Braille materials that were made available. Barry Levine, the newly elected President of ADI, congratulated Craig Dreeszen on his facilitation of the Conference.

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