About Joel Snyder, Ph.D.

President, Audio Description Associates, LLC
Founder/Senior Consultant, Audio Description Project, American Council of the Blind


  • Author of The Visual Made Verbal: A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description
  • Fulbright Scholar 2019 – For teaching in Audio Description in Athens, Greece with workshops in Malta and Ukraine
  • Winner of the 2015 American Foundation for the Blind Access Award
  • Winner of the 2014 Career Achievement Award in Audio Description of the American Council of the Blind
  • Winner of the 2014 Vernon Henley Media Award for promoting and furthering the availability of audio description

One of the first audio describers, Joel Snyder, Ph.D. is a true pioneer in the audio description field. He began describing theater events and media in 1981. A member of the 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, he is perhaps best known internationally as one of the first “audio describers” at the world’s first audio description service (c. 1981).

JOEL SNYDER, Ph.D. – President
Audio Description Associates, LLC

Founder/Senior Consultant,
Audio Description Project,
American Council of the Blind

Beginning in the early 1970s, he recorded “talking books” for the Library of Congress and read privately for individuals who are blind – but his abilities as a describer have made thousands of live theater productions accessible to audience members who are blind; in media, Dr. Snyder has used the same technique to enhance PBS’ American Playhouse productions, Sesame Street, a wide range of network broadcasts, feature films, educational videos, 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 founder of and senior consultant to 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 and President Trump’s inauguration. Dr. Snyder’s company also provided live audio description for events on the mall and throughout the city for President Obama’s 2008 inaugural festivities—national prayer breakfast, Lincoln Memorial, parade route.  He also authored and produced the first-ever audio described tour of The White House (suspended during the Trump years).   The Audio Description Project also produced description for the 30th anniversary DVD release of The Miracle Worker featuring Patty Duke as “Annie Sullivan” and the description for the Arts & Entertainment Network’s biography, Barack Obama.  The ADP sponsors the annual Audio Description Awards, coordinates international conferences on audio description, conducts the biannual 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), produced the August 2017 international broadcast of live audio description of the total solar eclipse, and maintains the ADP website, the leading resource for information on audio description in all genres: https://adp.acb.org.

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 has trained describers or introduced description techniques more than 40 states and in 64 nations. In 2019, Dr. Snyder was named a Fulbright Scholar and used the award to spend the month of December training describers in Athens, Greece and conducting workshops in Malta and Ukraine. 

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 and is now available in Braille and as an audio book from the Library of Congress Division of the Blind and Physically Handicapped, in a separate version voiced by Dr. Snyder, in screen reader accessible formats, and in English, Spanish, Chinese, Polish, Russian and Portuguese. An Italian edition will be released in 2023.