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The Audio Description Project

The Visual Made Verbal Training Manual and Guide


A Comprehensive Training Manual

and Guide

to the History and Applications of

 Audio Description

with associated web site



Published by

the American Council of the Blind 

      Audio Description Logo   ACB logo 

Foreword by William Rowland, Ph.D.,

former President, World Blind Union


Preface by Kim Charlson, President,

American Council of the Blind



$23 (print) or $12 (downloadable)
available from the ACB Mini Mall.
Also available on Amazon.

(Free for members of Bookshare)

Also available in Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Portuguese

(Greek forthcoming)

plus braille and audio via the NLS for B&PH


The publication is adapted from Joel Snyder's dissertation for his PhD from the Center for Accessibility and Ambient Intelligence at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain.

Dr. Snyder is the President of Audio Description Associates, LLC, and Director of ACB's Audio Description Project; he began work in audio description with Margaret and Cody Pfanstiehl in 1981 and has trained describers/introduced description throughout the United States and in

more than 35 countries.



From the book: 


"Audio Description (AD) makes the visual images of theater, media and visual art accessible for people who are blind or have low vision.  Using words that are succinct, vivid, and imaginative (via the use of similes or comparisons), describers convey the visual image that is either inaccessible or only partially accessible to a segment of the population.


"In addition, the visual image is often not fully realized by people who see, but who may not observe.   Description may also benefit people who prefer to acquire information primarily by auditory means and those who are limited-by proximity or technology, for instance-to accessing audio of an event or production.  While description was developed for people who are blind or visually impaired, many others may also benefit from description's concise, objective 'translation' of the key visual components of various art genres and social settings."



Read what people are saying about

Joel Snyder and Audio Description Training:


"I had the great pleasure to work with Joel Snyder as a special consultant during a three-day training session. We share common values: a commitment to the highest quality in audio description, the most effective ways to develop that level of expertise, and the belief that the involvement of audio description consumers is key. Joel's longevity and breadth of experience with audio description is unparalleled; his trainees reap the considerable benefits of his substantial background."

-Rick Boggs, President, Audio Eyes, Inc., Los Angeles, California


"Joel Snyder's training provided new insight into a research area which has now become an important area of study throughout Europe. His experience and his wisdom, along his with generosity, are a major driving force in the field of audio description and an inspiration to us all."

-Dr. Pilar Orero, PhD Coordinator, Center for Accessibility and Ambient Intelligence, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Barcelona


"Joel provided audio description training for our local theater, and it was amazing to observe how much the confidence and the ability of the trainees constantly improved throughout the weekend. Just when I thought I was receiving as much description as possible, the trainees would try again, and their work would be much improved."

-Mike Duke, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, New Stage Theatre, Jackson, Mississippi


"For decades, Joel Snyder has combined his astonishing command of language with his keen attention to detail to create word pictures that stir the mind's eye, especially for patrons of the arts whose physical eyes cannot see. Still, they see imaginatively, exquisitely. Making the visual verbal" truly enlivens the arts! And Joel has been a pioneer in doing so. His gift for making performances accessible and his leadership in audio description conferences we coordinated were highlights of my tenure at the Kennedy Center. His book has been long-awaited and no doubt will become the standard for prospective audio describers  around the world."

-Kelsey Marshall, Founding Director of Accessibility, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC


"Studying audio description with Joel Snyder is an experience that goes much beyond learning the standards of visual translation. He demonstrates how description can empower people who are blind to exercise their interest in the arts and media. Dr. Snyder does not only teach the standards of audio description; he teaches that audio describing is an act of respect for people with disabilities. Learning audio description with Joel Snyder is learning how to make words paint images in the minds of

audio description consumers."

-Dr. Francisco Lima, Professor, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil


"Prior to our third annual disability film festival in 2006, we invited Joel Snyder to Moscow to prepare local audio describers for our festival. Audio description was still unheard of in Moscow and was not being provided at all. Joel introduced AD to Russians by way of an interactive training that not only introduced the concept of AD in detail but gave each participant the opportunity to practice describing films. Later, half of the group successfully audio described films at our festival. Today, AD is still slowly developing as a service in Russia, but for those of us who participated in that first training, audio description has become a significant service that we will continue to promote."

-Denise Roza, Director, Perspektiva-Best Buddies, Moscow, Russia


"I am grateful to Dr. Snyder for sharing with the Hong Kong arts community the fundamentals of audio description-observation, editing, language and vocal skills and most importantly: passion. We learned how "the visual is made verbal" to increase access to the arts, a concept in line with our own commitment that the "arts are for everyone." Dr. Snyder has sown the seeds for a thriving audio description scene

in Hong Kong!"

-Ida Lam, Chairperson, Arts with the Disabled Association, Hong Kong (VSA Hong Kong)


"When Joel Snyder came to Iceland in 2009, there was no knowledge of audio description in the country and no qualified audio describers. But as a result of Dr. Snyder's work, there is now both knowledge and selection of audio describers available that can produce audio description in Icelandic."

-Kristinn Halldór Einarsson, Chairman, Blindrafelagid, Icelandic Organization of the Visually Impaired (BIOVI), Reykjavik, Iceland


"When we hosted Joel Snyder in South Africa, he mesmerized the participants with his lively facilitation style and his expertise in audio description. In introducing audio description in Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, he opened our world to unlimited possibilities!"

-Shakila Maharaj, Durban, South Africa


"It was my great pleasure to be a part of Joel Snyder's comprehensive Audio Description Institute, an audio description training program sponsored by the American Council of the Blind. I especially appreciated his focus and understanding of the needs of audio description users: people who are blind or partially sighted. His book includes this focus as well as a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of audio description; I know it will be an invaluable asset for the study of audio description."

-Sonali Rai, Digital Media and Culture Development Officer, Royal National Institute for Blind People, London, England