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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 Audio Description Institute, but the following programs are listed in the order of next-scheduled training.  Last Update:  May 11, 2021

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 next class will be August 2-6, shortly after the annual conference, with details available soon.

FOR REFERENCE:  The last class was March 1-5, 2021, Monday - Friday, 1pm - 5pm, virtually via Zoom, due to COVID-19.  There were 60 attendees!  Details can be found in this Virtual Audio Description Institute brochure.

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.

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 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 next class will probably be in 3Q 2021.  (The last class was Thursday, January 16th - Friday, January 17th, 2020, at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC.  Cost:  $425.) 

More Information.  You may also 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.

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 20+ hours of formal classes plus materials, with a discount available for students willing to share a room.  We have taught students from 7 countries (soon to be 10) and 28 US states so far.   

For the foreseeable future, the classes will be conducted virtually.  Nine 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.

Currently, no future classes are scheduled.  The following two were sold out and the information is included solely for REFERENCE.

We are happy to announce the dates of our next two virtual Level 1 Audio Description Training Retreats, both in May.  Each virtual training experience includes 22 hours of class time, and the curriculum is identical.  Tuition is $750 USD.  The first one is our usual 4-day schedule.  The second one is a 5-day schedule beginning and ending earlier than usual, designed to be more convenient for our students in Europe, Africa and the Near East.  Students are welcome to attend either one, no matter where they live, of course!

  • The first 4-day training will be May 6 to 9, 2021, Thursday through Sunday, 12:00 noon EDT to 7:00 PM EDT.  Info and Schedule
  • The second 5-day training will be May 27 to 31, 2021, Thursday through Monday, 11:00 AM EDT to 4:45 PM EDT.  Info and Schedule.  (Two spaces left as of April 22)

Click the links above to view the class description and schedule for each class.  Please note the dates and times are listed in New York City's time zone, Eastern Daylight Time.  Interested people should email us at:  ADTrainingRetreats@gmail.com to request an application form.  Our classes continue to fill up very quickly and it is first-come, first-served.

[Not currently applicable, but included for future reference ...]  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 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.

B-Creative Audio Describer Training

With 29 years of experience in all types of Audio Description, B-Creative offers online training following specific tracks of interest to students.

The Basics: 

  • Learn the basics of Audio Description, best practices, practice description of plays, movies and streamed content.
  • How to find resources to improve description.
  • How to find description work.
  • Determine your niche and goals.

Writing Description Scripts:

  • Includes understanding the process of creating Audio Description for different kinds of content for broadcast and streamed media and more -- understanding the process of how AD is produced.
  • Scriptwriting practice.
  • Other areas include art and museum exhibits, immersive experiences, materials for conferences, etc.
  • Practice and feedback and mentoring beyond the class.

Advanced Audio Description:

  • Describing live performances - Concentration on plays for and theatrical venues including how to provide onsite and remote Audio Description for virtual performances.
  • Learn how to recognize opportunities for description and adapt techniques.
  • Ongoing advice and feedback beyond the class.

The May 2021 classes are full, but check back for more, or contact Bonnie directly.

Contact:  Bonniejbarlow@gmail.com, 720-440-3893

Audio Description Narration - Nuance and Performance

The two October 2020 classes sold out.  Contact Roy about your interest in any additional class.

Details:

  • Practice to picture and audio with scripts on screenshare on Zoom - please plan on using headphones.
  • Class size is limited to 8 participants.
  • We'll have experienced advisors guiding us.
  • Additional donations go to Audio Description Project.
  • Email roysamuelson@hey.com for further details.

Roy Samuelson has over 700 blockbuster films and well-known series of audio description narration.  With over 50 interviews with decision makers in audio description, Roy brings a unique and practical approach to audio description voicing - and how to focus on our audiences' immersion in the story.

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."

The last conference would have been August 3-7, 2020 in Raleigh, NC, but it was postponed due to COVID-19.  You can track rescheduling plans at the Lead Conference Web Site.  As of February 2021 no plans have been announced.

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.

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.

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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