About Joel Snyder, Ph.D.
President, Audio Description Associates, LLC
Director, Audio Description Project, American Council of the Blind
Winner of the 2014 Vernon Henley Media Award for promoting and furthering the availability of audio description
Winner of the Career Achievement Award in Audio Description of the American Council of the Blind
One of the first audio describers, Joel Snyder began describing theater events and media in 1981. A member of Actors' Equity Association, the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists, and the Screen Actors Guild, and a 20-year veteran of work as an arts specialist for the National Endowment for the Arts, is perhaps best known internationally as one of the first "audio describers."
Beginning in the early 1970s, he recorded "talking books" for the Library of Congress and read privately for individuals who are blind. He began describing theater events and media in 1981 with the world's first ongoing audio description service in Washington, DC. His abilities as a describer make hundreds of live theater productions accessible to visually impaired audience members; in media, in the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Snyder used the same technique to enhance PBS' American Playhouse productions, ABC and Fox network broadcasts, feature films, the IMAX film "Blue Planet" and the Planetarium show "And A Star To Steer Her By" at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.
Under contract to the American Council of the Blind (ACB), Dr. Snyder is the Director of ACB's new Audio Description Project (ADP) designed to boost awareness of description in all formats throughout the United States. In its first three months, the ADP produced description for ABC-TV's nationwide coverage of President Obama's inauguration (and again for President Obama's 2013 inauguration) as well as the description for the Arts & Entertainment Network's Biography, Barack Obama. The Project also produced description for the 30th anniversary DVD release of The Miracle Worker featuring Patty Duke as "Annie Sullivan." The Project's website – www.acb.org/adp – is an important compendium of description activity in the United States and abroad.
As Director of Described Media for the National Captioning Institute, Joel Snyder led a staff that produced description for nationally broadcast films and network series including "Sesame Street" broadcasts and DVDs. He is a member of the American Foundation of the Blind's "expert panel" charged with reviewing guidelines for educational multi-media description.
Dr. Snyder's Audio Description Associates, LLC develops audio described tours for major museums throughout the United States including the writing/voicing of an audio described tour of the Enabling Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Albright/Knox Gallery in Buffalo, the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL, and myriad National Park Service and US Forest Service facilities.
Dr. Snyder trained museum docents in audio description techniques at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and Sackler/Freer Galleries, and the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, the Seattle Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design and the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City. He also coached Secret Service agents/White House tour guides in AD methods and prepared an AD tour of the White House before public tours of the White House were discontinued following 9/11. Dr. Snyder worked closely with the Disability Rights Committee of the Obama for America campaign in 2008, serving as a surrogate speaker on disability issues for the Obama campaign, and coordinated live audio description for the Presidential Inauguration Parade in January 2009.
Internationally, Dr. Snyder has introduced description techniques in over thirty-five nations (and in over thirty states) including Japan, Israel, Romania, Spain, Portugal, Lithuania, Iceland, Canada, Brazil, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, France, Turkey, Thailand, Taiwan, the U.K., Ireland, Norway and Finland; conducted audio description "master classes" in London, Prague, and St. Petersburg, Russia; and developed a team of describers for the second annual Moscow International Disability Film Festival as the result of intensive seminars conducted in Russia. In 2008, Dr. Snyder spoke on description at the VISION 2008 international gathering in Montreal, Canada and the Traduction Audiovisuelle conference in Montpellier, France; he led described tours of Geneva and provided description for the World Blind Union General Assembly in Switzerland following the presentation of a paper on description at the International Federation of Translation conference in Shanghai, China. He presented two papers on description in Italy at the International Conference on the Arts & Society and in Spain at the Advanced Research Seminar on Audio Description. Dr. Snyder was a featured speaker at KL VISION 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and presented seminars on description in Delhi, India and Hong Kong; in 2012 he introduced audio description techniques to the Nalaga'at Theatre in Tel Aviv, Israel, for the Iceland Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Reykyavik, and for a range of organizations in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg during a five-week visit to South Africa. For four weeks in 2014, Dr. Snyder trained describers and introduced description in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
Dr. Snyder has served on the Federal Communications Commission's Consumer Advisory Committee and sits on the FCC's Video Programming Access Advisory Committee and he is a member of the Description Leadership Network of the Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center in San Francisco. He is also a member of the Focus Group on Audiovisual Media Accessibility of the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, Switzerland.
Dr. Snyder is the author of many published articles on audio description and his book, "The Visual Made Verbal: A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description," was published by the American Council of the Blind in early 2014. Dr. Snyder holds a Ph.D. in Accessibility and Ambient Intelligence from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.