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, PhD is a true pioneer in the audio description field. He 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" at the world's first audio description service.
Under contract to the American Council of the Blind (ACB), Dr. Snyder is the founder and director of ACB's Audio Description Project (ADP) designed to boost awareness of description in all formats throughout the United States. The ADP produced description for ABC-TV's nationwide coverage of both of President Obama's inaugurations 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" and the first-ever audio described tour of The White House. The ADP sponsors the annual Audio Description Awards, coordinates international conferences on audio description, conducts the annual Audio Description Institute, offers the “BADIE” (Benefits of Audio Description In Education—formerly the Young Described Film Critic) contest for students who are blind (the “Listening Is Learning” initiative, sponsored in conjunction with the Described and Captioned Media Program) and maintains the ADP website, the leading resource for information on audio description in all genres: www.acb.org/adp.
As Director of Described Media for the National Captioning Institute, a program founded by Dr. Snyder, he led a staff that produced description for nationally broadcast films and network series including Sesame Street broadcasts and DVDs. He was a member of the American Foundation of the Blind's "expert panel" charged with reviewing guidelines for educational multi-media description and has been a member of several media access panels at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as well as the Disability Access Committee of the International Telecommunications Union and the Description Leadership Network of the Video Description Research and Development Center.
In addition to work principally in media and audio description training, Dr. Snyder's Audio Description Associates, LLC develops audio described tours for major museums and visitor centers 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, several Smithsonian Institution exhibits including the National Museum of American History’s “The Flag That Inspired the National Anthem”, and myriad National Park Service and US Forest Service facilities including Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon. 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, as noted above, he is the producer and author of the first-ever audio described tour of The White House. 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 Parades in 2009 and 2013.
Internationally, Dr. Snyder has trained describers or introduced description techniques 40 states and in 51 nations, most recently in Cuba, the Philippines, Israel, South Africa, Iceland, India, Thailand, Ireland, Poland, Hong Kong and Malaysia; he 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. 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.
Dr. Snyder is the recipient of the American Council of the Blind/Audio Description Project’s highest award, the Barry Levine Memorial Career Achievement in Audio Description; he also was named the 2014 recipient of the ACB Vernon Henley Media Award “for promoting and furthering the availability of audio description;” and in April 2015 was awarded the American Foundation for the Blind’s prestigious Access Award.
Dr. Snyder received his Ph.D in accessibility and audio description from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. His book, "The Visual Made Verbal: A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description", is published by the American Council of the Blind. "The Visual Made Verbal" will be published throughout 2017 in Russian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.