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Audio Description Training and Education Resources

This page is divided into the following sections:

Audio Describer Training

There are very limited opportunities to get trained as an audio describer.  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 Audio Description Institute, but the following programs are listed in the order of next-scheduled training. 

Audio Description Training Retreats in NC

AD Training Retreats

Audio Description Training Retreats offers lake-side training in North Carolina.  Their all-inclusive price for retreats covers 4 nights lodging in a waterfront home on Lake James, meals, and 20 hours of formal classes plus materials. A discount is available for students willing to share a room.  Retreats are limited to 8 participants to ensure ample practice time and feedback.

The next two Training Retreats are:

AUDIO DESCRIPTION TRAINING RETREAT—LEVEL 1
Thursday, October 10 through Monday, October 14, 2019
Nebo, North Carolina (on Lake James)
Cost: $950 all-inclusive
Level 1 Brochure

AUDIO DESCRIPTION TRAINING RETREAT—LEVEL 2
Thursday October 24 through Monday October 28, 2019
Lake James, NC
Cost: $950 all-inclusive
Level 2 Brochure

The two instructors are Jan, an audio describer, and Colleen, a consumer of audio description.  Colleen’s guide dog, Joplin, will also attend.  Transportation to and from the Charlotte, NC (CLT) airport is included, with arrival Thursday afternoon and departure Monday morning.  There are 20 hours of formal classes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, including generous practice time during classes, with informal learning and networking after hours.  Hiking, kayaking, swimming and a boat tour of the lake are offered each afternoon.

Visit the Audio Description Training Retreats website and/or contact Jan and Colleen for more information at adtrainingretreats@gmail.com

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 held annually at the ACB's Annual Conference in JULY each year, plus several other times throughout the year.

The most recent class was in Rochester, NY, July 10-12, 2019, in conjunction with the ACB Conference.  The next class will be in late February in the Washington DC area in conjunction with the mid-year ACB Meeting.

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

Program:

- Three full days of intensive, interactive training
- Last day luncheon will be provided
- Registration for the ACB Conference and Convention are included
- Registration for the ADP Conference is available at a discounted rate

Details:  Read about a recent training (reference only after the current training passes)

ADI Graduate Displays Certificate

ADI Graduates, February 2017
Graduates of the February 2017 ADI Class in Virginia

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.

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

Arts Access Logo

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

  • How to articulate visual details effectively and in the moment.
  • How to enhance the theater and gallery experience through audio description for an audience of those who are blind or have low vision.
  • Tips for bringing audio description to your own organization.

The last class was January 10-11, 2019, at the NC Museum of Art.  The next one is likely to be in early 2020.

For more information:  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.

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."

The next conference will be August 3-7, 2020 in Raleigh, NC.

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

FOR MORE INFORMATION, see the 2019 LEAD Conference.

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

ADLab Pro New Jul '19

ADLab Pro is a project funded by the European Union whose mission is "to create free-access, flexible, didactic materials of a modular and customizable nature, for the creation of an extremely important yet little known professional figure with a key role in the field of media accessibility:  the audio describer."  The website offers free and customizable course materials, including trainers guides and videos.

Access Virginia

Access Virginia in Newport News also provides training for audio describers.  They will publish information here the next time it is offered.  In the meantime, you can contact them at accessvirginia@gmail.com.

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

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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