Video Description Professional Development Seminar

A unique intensive-training professional development workshop hosted by the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, a member of the Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center (VDRDC) Description Leadership Network

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Video description is a tool developed to provide blind people with access to visual information portrayed in videos; however, historically the work force in the video description field overwhelmingly consists of sighted individuals. As is the case with most jobs, vision is not a requirement for success in the description industry. Once a blind person has received training in the techniques and processes used in the industry, the individual is very employable. Beginning July 1, 2012, major broadcast and cable networks will be required to provide video description for some television programs. The growing need to produce video-described programming will create new employment opportunities for blind professionals. With an extremely high unemployment rate among blind people, now is a perfect time for blind people to break into these careers. This workshop will provide participants with some initial training which could potentially make them desirable to companies who provide video description.


This ground breaking program is the first of its kind. In order to make the training as meaningful as possible, the National Federation of the Blind has secured the expertise of the foremost blind expert in the description industry, Rick Boggs, to design and conduct the training curriculum. The NFB continues to lead the nation in finding employment solutions for blind professionals, and Mr. Boggs is an ideal partner for the NFB's effort to create more employment opportunities for the blind in the description industry. The Description Leadership Network (DLN) is a coalition of world-class organizations involved with the practicality, policy, and technology of blindness and video accessibility. Each DLN member organization contributes unique resources and perspectives to the partnership. The VDRDC relies upon the DLN members for assistance and advice in its R&D efforts, as well as its extensive outreach and dissemination activities.

Workshop Objective

To change the landscape of the description industry to be more inclusive of blind professionals and consumers in the production process

Course Goals

  • Help students gain employability in description field
  • Enable students to acquire related skills for other work
  • Demonstrate effectiveness and value of such training

Program Details

  • Application deadline is March 9, 2012
  • Complete the online Video Description Training for Employment Application
  • Applicants will be notified regarding their acceptance status in early April
  • When: May 14 to 18, 2012
  • Where: National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Who: up to 10 blind adults with the required prerequisite skills mentioned below

The content of the workshop will be very specifically focused on teaching blind consumers of description how to become professional analysts of description, measuring the quality and effectiveness of description as written for a variety of video genres. The workshop covers a thorough examination of the national and international standards for video description, specific rules that apply to feature films, television programs, documentaries, educational media, and other video content. Participants will learn how to detect subtle condescending or patronizing attitudes in the description. Participants will be evaluating and rewriting significant quantities of video description scripts. The workshop will not include any education or training for audio engineers or voice-over artists. Graduates of the workshop may become certified Description Quality Specialists, and may be considered for paid internships and/or employment by major video description producers.

There will be no cost for those persons selected to participate in this workshop. Travel and room and board will be provided.

Application Requirements

Individuals seeking to participate in this unique employment training must:

  • Demonstrate excellent written and verbal communication
  • Possess an above average English vocabulary
  • Have sufficient experience with technology to effectively use a word processing program and (preferably) a spreadsheet program
  • Be able to effectively take notes
  • Be able to travel independently
  • Be interested in seeking internship and/or employment opportunities in the video description industry in the future
  • Be available for the training seminar in Baltimore, Maryland, May 14-18, 2012

Please note: Although the following skills are not required, they will be advantageous for participation in the training and in seeking future employment:

  • Fluency in one or more foreign languages
  • Competency with the Braille code and experience with Braille embossers
  • Extensive experience with computers

For more information about the Video Description Research and Development Center, visit

If you have questions about this program please contact Natalie Shaheen by calling 410-659-9314 extension 2293, or by e-mailing

The Video Description Professional Development Workshop was created in collaboration with, and funded by, the Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (H327J110005). However, the contents of this Web site and the workshop do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal government.