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The Audio Description Project

Audio Description Training and Education Resources

This page is divided into the following sections:

Audio Describer/Narrator Training

There are very limited opportunities to get trained as an audio describer and fewer as an audio narrator.  Training is often held in conjunction with conferences.  Here we list the opportunities that we know about, and we solicit information from anyone who is offering training opportunities for audio describers anywhere in the world!  Our "flagship" training program is the ADP's Audio Description Institute, but the following programs are listed in the order of next-scheduled training Last Update:  Oct 18, 2021

B-Creative Audio Describer Training

B-Creative Logo with a microphone and the AD logo Bonnie Barlow

CLASSES NOW OPEN for September through November, times to be determined. Eight classes, conducted in 2-hour sessions per week over four weeks.  Contact Bonnie Barlow directly:  [email protected], 720-440-3893.

With 30 years of experience in all types of Audio Description, B-Creative offers online training following specific tracks of interest to students either one-on-one or small groups of 2 to 6 students.  Affordable individual training also available.

Basics of Audio Description.

  • Best practices, examples of movies, videos, streamed content, conferences, narrators, quality assurance, etc.
  • Determine your niche and goals.
  • How to find description work.
  • How to find resources to improve your description.

Writing Audio Description Scripts

  • Formatting, tips and shortcuts.
  • Practice and feedback. Mentoring beyond the class.
  • Broadcast Television
  • Streamed Media
  • Films
  • Videos
  • Virtual Recorded Events
  • Other areas may include art and museum exhibits, immersive experiences, materials for conferences, etc., according to students' interests.
  • Filmed Dance and Plays.

Other Areas of Interest:

  • Quality Assurance of Audio Description: Learn the process and how to learn from QA sessions and feedback.
  • Theatrical Audio Description: Describing live performances - Concentration on plays for and theatrical venues including how to provide onsite and remote Audio Description for live and virtual performances.
  • Voice-over/Narration for Audio Description: Specifics unique to audio description voice-over work.

For fees and additional information, see Bonnie's Brochure.  Note:  This training is not sponsored by the ACB or the Audio Description Project.

Audio Description Training Retreats in NC

AD Training Retreats

Pre-COVID19, Audio Description Training Retreats offered lake-side training in North Carolina.  Our all-inclusive price for retreats covered 4 nights lodging in a waterfront home on Lake James, meals, and 22 hours of formal classes plus materials, with a discount available for students willing to share a room.  We have taught students from10 countries and 28 US states so far.   

For the foreseeable future, the classes will be conducted virtually.  Over 10 such classes have been held since July 2020 via ZOOM.  We will continue to limit our class size to 8 participants.  The two instructors are Jan, an audio describer, and Colleen, a consumer of audio description.  Colleen's guide dog, Joplin, will also attend.

The next level 1 class will be October 28-31, 2021:  22 class hours over 4 days, tuition $750.  Please read our ADTR brochure for details!  Write us at the address below if you are interested.  SORRY, THIS CLASS IS NOW FULL ...

A Level 2 Class (for previous graduates of Level 1) was offered in September 2021, but no Level 2 class is currently scheduled at this time.  Write if interested!

Interested people should email us at [email protected] to request an application form.  Our classes always sell out and fill up very quickly, and it is first-come, first-served.

Visit the Audio Description Training Retreats website and/or contact Jan and Colleen for more information at [email protected] Listen to a podcast which includes a discussion of how the company came into being and opportunities for blind consumers to help create and record audio description.

Note:  The Training Retreat is not sponsored by the ACB or the Audio Description Project.

Audio Description Institute (ADI)

Audio Description Institute Logo ADP Logo ACB Audio Description Logo

ADI is typically held annually at the ACB's Annual Conference in July each year, plus one other time during the year.  The class is taught by Dr. Joel Snyder.

The last class was August 2-6, 2021.  The next class will likely be in March 2022.  See the ADI Announcement for historical information, or view the typical ADI Agenda.

FOR REFERENCE:  The following information is generic and applies to all of the ADI training programs:

Topics:

1) audio description history and theory
2) the "Four Fundamentals of Audio Description" ©
3) active seeing/visual literacy-developing skills in concentration and observation
4) the art of "editing" what you see
5) vivid language: "The Visual Made Verbal"™
6) "Speak the speech, I pray you"--using the spoken word to make meaning

And new:

- Audio Description in the U.S. and around the world
- The Mechanics of Audio Description
- Audio Description Writing Software
- Audio Description Producers
- How to Get Work as a Describer

ADI Graduate Displays Certificate

NOTE!  The ADI is taught by the director of the Audio Description Project, Dr. Joel Snyder, who has taught audio description all over the world and obtained his doctorate degree in the subject.  In July 2014 he published a book based on his work with audio description:  The Visual Made Verbal, available for under $20 by clicking the link.  The book is given to each workshop participant.

Access Virginia

Access Virginia Logo

Access Virginia in Newport News periodically provides training for audio describers. 

The last class was August 13-15, 2021, and was conducted at Access Virginia, 606 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Building C, Room 3, Newport News, VA 23608.  The following is included here for REFERENCE ONLY.  No date has been set yet for the next class.

Access VA Flyer
(Printable copy of brochure above)

You can contact them at [email protected].

Note:  This training program is not sponsored by the ACB or the Audio Description Project.

Audio Describer Training in Raleigh/Durham/RTP Area of NC

Arts Access AD Training

Arts Access Inc. of Raleigh, NC, holds audio describer training annually and will conduct special classes for groups, including traveling to their location, if requested.  Participants will learn:

  • The Basics of Audio Description:  Guidelines for communicating visual details effectively and in the moment
  • Who Uses Audio Description?:  Understanding Blind and low vision culture, disability language and etiquette
  • AD in Different Settings:  How AD works in visual art, performing arts, film, and online events
  • Practice Sessions:  Practice your new skills with experienced describers and Blind listeners
  • Case Studies:  Hear from previous participants in Arts Access AD Training who took the skill back to their organizations and communities to start new programs

The most recent class was July 12-15, 2021, with tuition of $500.  The date of the next class has not been decided, but write if you are interested.

For more information or to enroll, visit the Arts Access website; or email Betsy Ludwig; or call Arts Access at 919-833-9919.

Note:  This training program is not sponsored by the ACB or the Audio Description Project.

Roy Samulson Head-and-Shoulders PhotoNuances of Audio Description Narration

One-on-one coaching and workouts with blind professional advisors.  Focus is on film and television.

Blind and sighted talents who have experience in performance, or being directed, are welcomed.

Email [email protected] for more details.

Note:  This training session is not sponsored by the ACB or the Audio Description Project.

Developing Audio Description Skills
(or a related topic)

Lead Conference

This training is held annually at the LEAD Conference, which is generally held in August.  The mission of the conference is "to explore practical methods for implementing accessibility in cultural environments [and] share resources and knowledge, develop best practices, and experience accessibility in action."

Update!  The next conference will be August 1-5, 2022, in Raleigh, NC.  (The 2020 and 2021 conferences were postponed due to COVID-19.)  You can track rescheduling plans at the Lead Conference Web Site.

The first two days of the Conference are called Capacity Building Workshops, and a typical class (not necessarily taught in any given year) would be entitled An Introduction to Developing Audio Description Skills.

This full day interactive workshop will introduce the foundation of audio description, the “3 Core Skills” and its application to live performance and exhibit/museum disciplines. Attendees will experience the practical application of the core skills through participatory exercises, lectures, and demonstrations in a shared setting. This workshop is recommended for those both new to audio description, as well as those looking to refresh and expand their basic skills.

A second workshop is often held on a different AD topic.  Example:  Adapting Audio Description to New Technology.

For reference, in 2019 the following workshop was offered:

Back to the Future: Adapting Audio Description to New Technology
Saturday August 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Registration Fee: $200
New technology affects every part of our lives, including the process, production, and delivery of audio description. How do new apps, tools, and approaches impact the way that description is developed? This 8-hour workshop will cover different techniques for crafting audio description for different platforms in cultural arts environments, and provide opportunities to explore new methods of description.

In addition, many full sessions (included in regular Conference fee) cover or include audio description.  Examples from 2019:

  • Audio Description Revealed
  • Audio Description As a Learning Tool For Young Children
  • Deep Dive:  Diversifying Audio Describers
  • 2020 Call to Action Plan:  Captioning & Audio Description Available at Every Performance
  • UniD:  Creating and Audio Description Platform and Opportunities for Print Materials With Partners

Note: the LEAD Conference and its Audio Description training is not sponsored by the ACB or the Audio Description Project.

Inclusive Media: Real-time Closed Captioning and Audio Description/Described Video
A Course at Ryerson University in Canada

Learn how to use the latest live closed captioning (CC) and audio description/described video (AD/DV) techniques and technologies to create inclusive and accessible broadcast content for a variety of audiences. Through hands-on training and theoretical learning, explore CC and AD/DV software tools, script writing and re-speaking techniques, and relevant industry regulations and legislation. Industry experts will help you develop both fundamental and advanced skills for this growing field.

View the Course Description.

Audio Description Training Materials

The following are AD Training materials that we know about.  Authors are encouraged to submit others to the webmaster for inclusion here.

Educational Description

Here we list pointers to information about audio description in education, both for training and for acquisition of the end product.  DCMP refers to the Described and Captioned Media Program.

Best Practices for the Digital Environment

Academic Articles

The History of Audio Description - Seminal Document Now Available

We are pleased to make available a copy of Gregory Frazier's May 1975 Master's thesis on audio description, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman: An All-Audio Adaptation of the Teleplay for the Blind and Visually Handicapped.

Joel Snyder discusses the document in his book, The Visual Made Verbal: A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description, published by the American Council of the Blind in 2014. In the book, Dr. Snyder notes that:

"On the U.S.'s west coast: Gregory Frazier, a professor at San Francisco State University, formally developed the concepts behind audio description and general guidelines for its use. In its 1996 obituary of Gregory T. Frazier, the New York Times called Frazier 'a San Francisco visionary who hit on the idea of providing simultaneous electronic audio descriptions for the blind so they could enjoy more than the dialogue of movies, television and theater performances.'

"In the early 1970s, Frazier was relaxing at his home with a friend who happened to be blind. The evening's entertainment? High Noon with Gary Cooper, playing on television. The NY Times article relates that 'At the friend's request, Frazier, speaking rapidly between the lines of dialogue, provided terse descriptions of the scenes and actions. The friend was so appreciative that by the time Gary Cooper had shot Frank Miller dead, ripped the star off his own chest and thrown it to the ground before climbing into a carriage and driving off with Grace Kelly, Mr. Frazier … was a changed man.'

"Frazier realized that the concise descriptions he provided for his friend extemporaneously could be thought-through, edited, recorded and played through FM radio receivers at movies - or carried over secondary audio channels on television. Frazier, a graduate of San Francisco State University, returned to college to obtain a Master's degree in broadcast journalism, developing a thesis-'television for the blind'- that explored the use of description to enhance the 1974 television production of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

"In 1991, Mr. Frazier founded the non-profit corporation AudioVision SF to provide description for the performing arts in San Francisco-area venues. AudioVision SF still exists, providing description on a regular basis for theater performances throughout the Bay Area. In 2010, Audio Vision SF and Gregory Frazier posthumously received the Barry Levine Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award in Audio Description, presented by the American Council of the Blind's Audio Description Project."

Other Academic Articles


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