Advanced Audio Description: An Analysis of Paradise

Presented at 9:00am in Colorado I-J on Thursday, January 1, 2022.



  • Joel Snyder, PhD, President - Founder/Sr. Consultant, Audio Description Associates, LLC - Audio Description Project of the American Council of the Blind
  • Susan Glass, audio description consumer, retired-professor of English

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 5-6-hr
  • Format: Bring-your-own Device Workshop: laptop, if at all possible
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: Pre-conference


This presentation will explore advanced techniques for how audio description (AD) provides access to the arts for people who are blind. AD, a form of audiovisual translation, transfers visual images to a sense form that is accessible for people who are blind or have low vision. In-depth analysis of professional AD will be conducted and workshop practica will allow participants to create AD for excerpts from film and video.


Using words that are succinct, vivid, and imaginative, audio describers observe, select, and then succinctly and vividly use language to convey the visual image that is not fully accessible to a segment of the population—the American Foundation for the Blind notes that 31 million Americans are blind or “have difficulty seeing even with correction”. Cultural activities are an important element of our society, often expressing values, trends, fads, historical perspectives, or future directions. People who are blind or visually impaired want and need to be a part of society in all its aspects. Audio description – voiced in pauses between lines of dialogue or critical sound elements – provides the means for blind or visually impaired people to have full and equal participation in cultural life.

At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will know/experience: - who are "the blind"? - the history of Audio Description - Active Seeing / Visual Literacy - how to develop skills in concentration and observation - the art of "editing" what you see - using the spoken word to make meaning

In the United States and in countries throughout the world the principal constituency for audio description has an unemployment rate of about 70%. With more meaningful access to our culture, people become more engaged with society and more engaging individuals—thus, more employable.


  1. Effective audio description is the result of careful observation of images to be described.
  2. Audio describers must cull from the visual whatever is most critical to an understanding of the image.
  3. Audio describers translate the visual to concise, vivid, and imaginative written and spoken language.

Disability Areas


Topic Areas

Assistive Technology, Uncategorized, Web/Media/App Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Joel Snyder, PhD

Dr. Joel Snyder is known internationally as one of the world’s first “audio describers,” a pioneer in the field of Audio Description, a translation of visual images to vivid language for the benefit, primarily, of people who are blind or ahve a vision impairment. The visual is made verbal—and aural, and oral. Since 1981, he has introduced audio description techniques in over 40 states and 63 countries and has made hundreds of live events accesible. In 2014, the American Council of the Blind published Dr. Snyder’s book, The Visual Made Verbal – A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description, now available from the Library of Congress as an audio book voiced by Dr. Snyder and in Braille, in screen reader accessible formats, and in English, Polish, Russian and Portuguese (Spanish, Greek and Chinese are in development). Dr. Snyder is the President of Audio Description Associates, LLC and he serves as the Director of the Audio Description Project of the American Council of the Blind (

Susan Glass

Blind since birth, Susan Glass was a Professor of English and Writing from 1983 through 2013. She taught in California at San Jose State University, Santa Clara University, and west Valley Community College, where she chaired the English Department for 4 years. She joined the American Council of the Blind in 2006, and has served in various positions including President of the American Association of Blind Teachers, Co-editor of the Blind Teachers Newsletter AABT Briefs, and Editor of the Friends In Art Newsletter, The Log Of The Bridge Tender. She participates actively in the partnership between the American Council of the Blind's Audio Description Project, and the National Parks UNI D Project, which provides described park brochures for blind and low vision visitors. Since 2013, she has chaired the Audio Description Project Benefits of Audio Description In Education Sub Committee, which is part of the Audio Description Project Steering Committee. She currently works as a free lance writer and published poet.