Audio Description Project: We Need You!

by Joel Snyder, Director, ACB Audio Description Project

In last month's issue of the Forum, I appealed to you for your help in encouraging young audio description enthusiasts to send us their reviews of described videos or films.  It warrants a reminder — we need your assistance in getting the word to young people in your states and regions about our sixth annual Young Described Film Critic Contest.  The deadline for entries is Friday, June 13, 2014. For more information and to enter online, visit our web site at or Google Listening Is Learning, a site run by our partner in this initiative, the Described and Captioned Media Program.  We have a link to the entry site on the ADP home page, or kids can just send a written entry in regular, large print or braille via e-mail or postal mail to ACB's offices in Arlington, VA.
Similarly, we'd love to have you publicize our other awards program: the Sixth Annual ADP Awards. This year's ADP Awards include a call for nominations in six categories:

  • Achievement in Audio Description – Media
  • Achievement in Audio Description – Performing Arts
  • Achievement in Audio Description – Museums
  • Achievement in Audio Description – International
  • Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description – Research and Development
  • Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description

Again, please go to our web site,, for more information on how you can recognize impressive achievement in the field of audio description.
Our annual AD Institute, a describer training initiative, will happen for its sixth year in a row.  The intensive, three-day training for prospective describers will start early on the morning of Wednesday, July 16 and go through Friday, July 18.  Keep in mind — if you're an avid description consumer, work is available as a consultant on the scripting for museum tours, media and for the performing arts.  So ACB members may want to consider joining us for the training.  Stay in touch via our web site,
But that's not all!
This year, we will convene our third Audio Description Project Conference — a conference within the ACB conference, to be held in the afternoons Sunday through Tuesday, July 13-15.  We invite ACB members to register for the conference and learn a great deal about all aspects of description.
New for this year, we will hold a "Mentoring Meet-Up" – sighted attendees of the Audio Description Project Conference will be paired with a blind or visually impaired mentor.  The best describers develop an understanding of the audience for whom they are providing a critical service.  What better opportunity for such interaction than at the ACB conference and convention, where some 1,500 blind people will likely be present?
We encourage ACB members to assist us by volunteering to be a mentor:  bring the ADP Conference attendee to the opening plenary session of the ACB conference and at least two other activities during the sessions over the next two mornings — e.g., touring the exhibit hall together, attending an affiliate meeting or an additional ACB general session, taking a walk, eating a meal together, or watching an audio-described film.  It should be great fun. We hope that these interactions will give sighted describers lots of practical experience interacting with a blind person — and you both may forge a new friendship and increase understanding between the sighted and the blind communities.
Here's a preview of the other sessions and activities we have planned for the ADP Conference.

  • Getting the Most Out of the ADP Web Site: How to Access Audio-Described TV, Movies, and Videos
  • Description and Literacy – Programs like the Described and Captioned Media Program and several published papers have demonstrated how description can build literacy        
  • Legislative Update – A review of the current status of the mandate for broadcast description; broadcast description in the digital era and the FCC; and the end of Department of Education funding for broadcast description
  • Advocacy for Audio Description/Boosting Description for Media – How can description become more "visible?"  How can we most effectively advocate for description, particularly in various media formats, e.g., television, film, the web, DVDs and smartphones?
  • Broadcast Description — Who creates description for broadcast television?  Are there quality standards?  Can description producers work with cable and satellite companies to make it easier for consumers to access description? 
  • The Description Profession — How and where do audio describers become employed, especially for film and TV?  What about opportunities for AD consumers to contribute to the process? 
  • Audio Description in Spanish — 53 million people of Hispanic descent constitute 17% of the population of the United States.  How is audio description serving Hispanics who are blind or have low vision?
  • Knowing Your Audience-Performing Arts Description — It all began with the performing arts.  What are the most recent advances?  What can be done to entice more consumers of the service?
  • Seeing the Art-Visual Art/Museum Description — Learn about the top programs for visual art description in the United States and abroad.
  • The Audio Description Consumer – Audio description is first and foremost in service to the needs of people who are blind or have low vision.
  • Presentation of the ADP Awards

So consider becoming an active audio description advocate — join us this summer for the ADP conference!  You can stay in touch with us at the ADP web site,