by Joel Snyder

As many of you know, ACB has boldly embraced audio description as a tool for greater access to our culture — and to the extent that ACB members are more engaged individuals, they’re more employable too. And it’s been shown that description can be a real force in building literacy for children who are blind — or anyone who hears the synonyms, metaphors and imaginative language employed by describers.

The Audio Description Project is ACB’s major description promotion and production initiative. While our project only just started in January, we’ve already scored several major coups: we produced description for ABC-TV’s nationwide coverage of President Obama’s inauguration as well as the description for the Arts & Entertainment Network’s Biography, Barack Obama, and the 30th anniversary DVD of the “The Miracle Worker” with Patty Duke in the role of Annie Sullivan. We’re also tracking audio description activity throughout the nation. Please visit for more information.

And now it’s a pleasure to announce three special efforts:

1) the first annual Audio Description Project Conference;

2) the “Young Described Film Critic” contest; and

3) the availability of the DVD of “The Miracle Worker” with description by ACB’s Audio Description Project — a fundraiser for ACB!

First Annual Audio Description Project Conference

The conference will be held in conjunction with the American Council of the Blind 2009 convention at the Rosen Centre, Orlando, Fla., July 7-8, 2009. It is open to anyone interested in the field of audio description for performing arts, museums, media, and myriad other applications.

We’ll gather all parties with an interest in audio description in order to:

• Announce national standards for audio description based on a review of existing standards worldwide;

• Introduce ACB-sponsored certification for audio describers;

• Provide the latest information on Congressional action regarding a mandate for description on broadcast television;

• Award the first annual “Young Described Film Critic of the Year” honor in three age ranges to young description users (a program of the ADP/DCMP “Listening Is Learning” Initiative);

• Recognize leading describers and description producing organizations with achievement awards in description – Performing Arts, Museums, Media, Research, and Career Achievement;

• Guest speakers (invited):

- Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy

- Michael J. Copps, Acting Chairman, FCC

You can register for the conference as a part of your ACB convention registration. Registration for the conference will include:

- one-year membership in the Audio Description Project;

- light breakfast and lunch on meeting days;

- one-year membership in the American Council of the Blind (current ACB members will receive a discount on registration for this conference);

- basic registration for the ACB 2009 convention (if you’ve already registered for the convention, you will receive a discount on registration for this conference).

Young Described Film Critic Contest -- A “Listening Is Learning” Initiative

Kids love movies. If you’re a young person who can’t see or can’t see well, audio description provides access to all the visual images of the movies that your sighted peers enjoy. Some films in movie theaters and certain DVDs have description available; many of those DVDs and the older VHS tapes with description can be borrowed at public libraries or state libraries for the blind.

The Young Described Film Critic Contest wants you to experience these films and the description soundtracks and tell us about them!

Young people with a visual impairment have a chance to win prizes for themselves AND their schools, as well as a chance to hold the awesome title Young Described Film Critic of the Year!

All you need to do for a chance to win is to write, type or record your own film review of any described movie. Keep it short: 250 words maximum.

There are three age categories: Sophomore (ages 7 to 10), Junior (ages 11 to 14), and Senior (ages 15 to 18). You can enter as many times as you like!

The top nominees in each age category will be invited to an awards ceremony at the convention in Orlando, Fla. on July 7. Special guest award presenters will be in attendance and while the prizes are still to be determined, we know you won’t be disappointed!

DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: Friday, June 12, 2009

To enter, send us your written entry in regular or large print or braille via e-mail or postal mail. Just send your review to: ACB-Young Described Film Critic, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201; e-mail [email protected]; or phone (202) 467-5083. Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address. Also include your age category: Sophomore (ages 7 to 10), Junior (ages 11 to 14), or Senior (ages 15 to 18); the name of your school and class, and the school address and phone number. Don't forget to attach your review!

Go to or for “Top Tips for writing the ultimate film review” – and good luck!

The Miracle Worker on DVD

ACB's Audio Description Project presents "The Miracle Worker" on DVD, with closed captioning and audio description. Based on the 1962 classic starring Patty Duke (as “Helen Keller”), this is the 30th anniversary edition of the 1979 television production and its first time on DVD. It stars Melissa Gilbert as Helen Keller and Patty Duke as her tutor, Annie Sullivan. It was the winner of 3 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Lead Actress for Patty Duke.

Purchase your copy today, honor Helen Keller’s 129th birthday (June 27, 2009), and benefit the ACB: a significant portion of each purchase made via this link benefits the American Council of the Blind! Just go to or and click on “The Miracle Worker” links.

Helen Keller was the young girl who was blind, deaf, and mute since infancy. She was in danger of being sent to an institution, until a persistent and outspoken teacher named Annie Sullivan came into her life. Together they taught one another the values of patience, tolerance and compassion. Together they made the name Helen Keller synonymous with the education of people who are blind and deaf around the world.

For more information on any Audio Description Project initiative, contact me at (202) 467-5083 or via e-mail at [email protected]

See you in Orlando!

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