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The Audio Description Project

2015 ADP Summary of Accomplishments

American Council of the Blind - Audio Description Project Activity 2015
by Joel Snyder, PhD, Project Director

2015, our seventh full year of activity, was yet another banner year for ACB’s Audio Description Project (ADP).  Here’s a summary of much of that activity.

Audio Description Project Conference Highlights

2015 was an “off-year” for us with respect to our biennial ADP Conference—but Jo Lynn Bailey Page and Susan Glass of our ADP Committee mounted a super “mini-conference” during the Dallas ACB Conference  and Convention.  What follows is an outline of the great sessions that were held:

Audio description in film and television, and AD legal issues.

Moderator: Dan Spoone.
Additional panelists: Dr. Joel Snyder, Carl Richardson, and Eric Bridges.

Panel topics:

* CVAA updates

* Dept. of Justice hearings

* Notice of Public Rule Making

* AD in media (TV, film, technology)

* CVAA: responses from Netflix, Comcast, and Warner Brothers.

Audio description in museums and performing arts.

Moderator: Dr. Joel Snyder.
Additional panelists: Mary Ann Siller or a representative from the Meadows Museum in Dallas, Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, Susan Glass and Margie Donovan.

Panel topics:

* Presence of AD in the performing arts, both locally and nationwide.

* Meadows Museum representative shares what the museum is doing to increase access for visually impaired patrons.

* Joel and Jo Lynn discuss ACB/ADP Arena Stage Partnership.

* Susan, Margie, and Jo Lynn discuss work of Performing Arts Sub-committee, updates to performing arts listings posted on ADP website and plans to list AD offered at art museums and national parks.  

Navigating the ADP website and listserv.

Moderator: Dr. Joel Snyder
Additional panelists: Susan Glass and Fred Brack

An orientation for AD consumers to the ADP website by Fred Brack. Susan Glass provided a pre-recorded demonstration of Screen Reader and Braille Note Taker Access to the site.

Resources, advocacy, and mentorship.

Moderator: Dan Spoone
Additional panelists: Carl Richardson, Susan Glass, and Margie Donovan Panel topics:

* Dan and Carl discuss Blind Date Night, and how local affiliates can publicize and drive it.

* Susan Glass shares how clients of the Vista Center for the Blind now regularly attend live audio described live theater performances and the cities of Palo Alto and Mountain View California, and offers Vista's approach as a model for other communities.

* Margie Donovan shares advocacy efforts that brought AD to live theater in Sacramento.

* Susan Glass updates audience members on AD Mentorship Program, and invites their participation.

2015 Audio Description Achievement Awards

Also, during the Dallas gathering, we presented the 2015 Audio Description Achievement Awards at the Conference during a plenary session.  They included:

- Achievement in Audio Description – Performing Arts:  Jesse Minkert, Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences - Seattle, WA

- Achievement in Audio Description – Media:  Netflix – Los Gatos, CA

- Achievement in Audio Description – Museums:  Meadows Museum of Art at the Southern Methodist University – Dallas, TX

- Achievement in Audio Description – International:  Anne Hornsby, Mind’s Eye – Bolton, United Kingdom

- Special Recognition Achievement in Audio Description:  Sebastian Andrade-Miles - Glendale, CO

- Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description – Research and Development:  Accessible Media, Inc. “AMI Player” – Toronto, Canada 

- Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description:  Dr. Pilar Orero – Barcelona, Spain

We continue to investigate how we might revive the Young Described Film Critic contest.  The ADP Committee is considering next steps.

Audio Description Institutes

This year’s Audio Description Institute (our seventh!) trained 18 participants in the fundamentals of audio description including students from two countries and eight states.  A highlight this year’s was the valuable donation of time and energy by Mary Hanks who contributed a great deal as a co-director of the Institute.

In addition, we conducted a sell-out Audio Description Institute in Washington, DC in conjunction with ACB’s Mid-Year Meeting.  Our next DC-based Institute in Washington will be held February 27-29, 2016 in conjunction with the 2016 ACB Mid-Year Meeting .

ACB Movie Night

This year’s screening of an audio described film, Birdman, was presented to approximately 80 individuals.  We continue our tradition of presenting each year’s “Best Film” Oscar award winner with description. fees

Some folks may not be aware that when you purchase DVDs (or anything else) when linked to via the ADP website (, ACB receives a small portion of each sale.  The following data reveal the effectiveness of our arrangement with / the benefit to ACB from purchases generated through the ADP website:

- Since 2009 and the inception of the ADP:  $7,011.70

- in 2013:  $1,443.42
- in 2014:  $1,666.80
- in 2015, to date:  $1,466.00

Web Site (

Our web site continues to be one of our most visible and successful achievements—all due thanks to Fred Brack, our webmaster, for his ongoing leadership.  Throughout the year, we have:

- updated information on the ADP Conference, Institute,  Awards, and other efforts;

- provided weekly updates on audio-described DVDs and Blu-ray discs (117 in 2015—that’s well more than twice the described DVDs released by this same time in 2014!);

- provided updates on TV shows including video description and the resumption of our comprehensive listing of broadcast television programs with audio description, with the support of ADP friend Sebastian Andrade-Miles;

- made additions to live theatre, movie, and museum locations with AD;

- announced AD training opportunities in 2015;

- published “Museum Art Tours For People Who Are Blind,” “ACB Conference Attendees Experience a Rodeo,” and a splendid article by our own Susan Glass:  “First-Person Experience With Audio Description.”

Social Media

To date, the ADP Facebook page has received more than 1,400 “likes” and we have more than 100 Twitter followers.

DC Aid Association grant award

$15,000 was awarded to ACB for an ADP project supporting description at a major museum in the DC area.  In early 2016, we will produce an audio described tour of two areas at the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington, DC.


Access to Media Subcommittee

Present activities include--

- tracking and responding to the Department of Justice Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on Movie Theater Access;

- tracking and responding the FCC NPRM on Increasing video description;

- working on the FCC Video Programming sub-committee efforts on creating a centralized listing for description on broadcast television;

- sponsoring a “Blind Date Movie Night”;

- encouragement of networks, including PBS, to use their websites to note programs that include audio description;

- create a master contact list of all the contacts we have in film, television, and the cable/satellite industries

Awards Subcommittee

Present activities include--

- consider ways to boost YDFC entries;

- explore possible new applicant areas such as nominations from AD producers, e.g., “Best Described Film,” “Best Described Television Program,” etc.

Access to Performing Arts and Museums Subcommittee

Present activities include--

- wrapping up work on a state-by-state list of performing arts venues currently offering AD for performances;

- developing a state-by-state list of museums and National Park Service facilities with audio description;

- crafting a “star-based” list of criteria for the evaluation of museum access, i.e., “Five Stars” = excellent and “One Star” = poor.

Fundraising Subcommittee

Present activities include--

- our own Jo Lynn Bailey Page has been brought on board by the ACB as a fundraising consultant—her work will focus on building contributed income in support of the ADP;

- awarded $15,000 from the DC Aid Society for a 2015-2016 project developing an audio described tour at the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum.

Joel Snyder’s (Director of the ADP) travel/activity

Develop AD tours at:  Saguaro National Park, Tucson, AZ; Flight 93 National Memorial, PA; Alibates Flint Quarries, TX; Franklin Museum in Philadelphia, PA; Carlsbad Caverns, California; Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming; Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum, Oklahoma City, OK; Fort Davis, TX; Fort Raleigh, NC; Museum of Florida History, Tallahassee, FL;     

--Chaired panel on AD for the Art Beyond Sight Telephone Crash Course;

--Presented papers on AD at the Languages and the Media Conference in Berlin;

--Conducted AD workshop in Stockholm, Sweden;

--Presented an AD workshop for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services Symposium in Birmingham;

--Conducted AD training for the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, MO;

--Conducted AD training at the Meadows Museum in Dallas, TX;

--Conducted AD training for the Slovenia Ethnographic Museum in Ljubljana, Slovenia;

--Conducted AD training in Cairo, Egypt, Doha, Qatar, Dubai, UAE, and Tel Aviv, Israel;

--Received a 2015 Access Award from the American Foundation for the Blind-Phoenix, AZ;

--Conducted AD training in Penang, Malaysia and Jakarta, Indonesia;

--Presented a paper on AD at the Advanced Research Symposium on Audio Description in Barcelona, Spain;

--Conducted AD workshop at the John Astin Theater at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD;

--Conducted AD training for the US State Department in Yekaterinburg, Russia; Baku, Azerbaijan, and Moscow, Russia;

--Conducted AD training and presented keynote address at the Audio Description and Education Symposium in Warsaw, Poland;

--Spoke at the M-Enabling Summit in Washington, DC;

--Conducted AD training in Maceio and Sao Paulo, Brazil;

--Spoke on panel for the DC Council of the Blind;

Upcoming travel/events:

--Provide description and conduct AD seminar at the World Blind Union Congress in Orlando, FL.

--Publication of “The Visual Made Verbal” in Portuguese, Polish, and Russian (discussions underway for publications in Swedish and Spanish);

--Conduct audio description training in Toronto;

--February 27-29, 2016—DC-based Audio Description Institute;

--ongoing participation on the FCC’s Disability Advisory Committee

--conduct audio description workshop at the Multiple Perspectives conference at Ohio State University;

--conduct audio description workshops and full trainings in Montevideo, Uruguay; Buenos Aries, Argentina; Maceio and Sao Paulo, Brazil; Poznan, Poland; and Havana, Cuba;

--Audio Description Institute and Audio Description Project Conference in Minneapolis, July 2016.

End of Report.