About Us

We’re specialists. That’s the difference. Our writers complete a rigorous certification process and are highly skilled to meet the unique requirements of descriptive video. Our narrators are individually chosen with your production specifications in mind, and we offer services in English, French, or Spanish.

 

Research & development. Our advisory council led by expert consultants who themselves are blind, is vital to understanding the needs of blind and visually-impaired consumers of visual media.

 

Our turnaround. A seamless production process delivers on budget and on time. Our technical expertise guarantees a top quality product, a commitment we’ve made to our clients since 2003.

 

Quality. Our clients and consumers of audio description recognize the quality of our work. We are a proud member of the Netflix NP3 Program.

The team who makes it all happen

Across North America, our team is filled with talented, skilled and delightfully fun people who genuinely believe in creating accessible visual media for all to enjoy. Their energy is evident in their daily work ethic and dedication to our clients.

Rhys Lloyd

Rhys Lloyd

Studio Head

About Rhys

Over the last twenty-five years, Rhys has worked in numerous areas of the film industry – from on set to the corporate boardrooms. Prior to joining Descriptive Video Works, Rhys spent twelve years with Technicolor working in London, Los Angeles and Vancouver leading the Operations and Technology teams for Technicolor’s Digital Cinema and Visual Effects business units. He is excited to have joined the DVW team in November 2019, working alongside this dedicated and passionate group of technicians and artists bringing accessibility to media and entertainment.

Melissa Hope

Melissa Hope

Client Services Manager

About Melissa

Melissa became interested in the described video field when a retinal detachment forced her to lay on her side with her eyes closed for five days; binging audio described Netflix shows kept her entertained and made her fall in love with the art of audio description.

Before joining Descriptive Video Works in June 2019 as an assistant project manager, Melissa managed a coworking space and an organic home delivery company. She is excited to bring her varied experience to the field of entertainment and accessibility.

Chana Smith-Balloffet

Chana Smith-Balloffet

International Operations Manager

About Laura

Chana is a global citizen, holding dual US and French nationality, and speaks English, Franch, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish. She has extensive experience in localization, having managed dubbing and subtitling of film, TV, and streaming content for major Hollywood studios and service providers. 

While Chana does not have a vision impairment, accessibility is something that resonates for her as a woman, immigrant, and person with multi-racial and ethnic identities. Her experiences have shaped her core beliefs that everyone should be seen and heard, and “have a seat at the table.” Chana says, “Equality of access to information, education, culture and entertainment is an imperative that I feel very passionate about.” 

Laura Davies

Laura Davies

Creative Services Manager

About Laura
Laura relocated to Vancouver after working for a busy audio post-production studio in Toronto for 8 years, fresh out of the Radio and Television Arts program at Ryerson University.  In 2010, she began recording and mixing for Descriptive Video Works and has since taken on many different roles at the company, from recording and mixing, to project management, and now in the newly formed Creative Services Manager position.  
 
In inhabiting all of these roles over the last decade, Laura is fully immersed in how the different parts of what DVW does work together to ensure the audience gets the best possible product.  
Kent Stephany

Kent Stephany

Technical Services Manager

About Kent
Jamie Murray

Jamie Murray

Project Manager

About Jamie

Jamie was introduced to Diane Johnson in 2014 through a mutual friend and was excited to officially join the company in 2015.  Before joining DVW he was a freelance editor working in the television and film industry for over 27 years on a variety of different productions from corporate videos to feature films.   Jamie first started in broadcasting at the MuchMusic Network in Toronto and continued to promote local music producing EPKs for musicians in Vancouver.  He has also worked for Global Television and CBC in Vancouver as a freelance editor.  Jamie brings his vast technical experience to the DVW team and is thrilled to be a part of the continued growth of the company.

Nate Schwartz

Nate Schwartz

Project Manager

About Nate

Nate joined the DVW team in 2020. He has always been passionate about entertainment, accessibility, and assistive tech. How awesome is it when you can combine your passions; it is really all you can ask for!

Before joining the team, Nate spent the last 4 years in accessible learning in the post-secondary world, and prior to that, he spent over a decade working with people with disabilities, helping them access the supports and services they need to achieve their goals.  

Susan MacDonald

Susan MacDonald

Project Manager

About Susan

Susan has 22 years experience working in the film industry with Technicolor where she held many different positions including 14 years as Production Manager. Susan has an entrepreneurial nature and owned a franchise in the fitness industry for 4 years. She is excited to be back in the entertainment industry since joining DVW in June 2021 and is looking forward to building great relationships and playing a part in making content accessible to everyone.

Kimberly Manky

Kimberly Manky

Communications Manager

About Kim

Kimberly is a writer and communications expert. She has written for Lonely Planet, Disney, ABCmouse.com, Nickelodeon, and Darling Magazine. Her education includes a MA in Creative Writing from the University of London (Roehampton), a BFA from the University of British Columbia, and a certificate in Contextual Theology from St. Mellitus College in London, UK.

Nefertiti Matos Olivares

Nefertiti Matos Olivares

Workflow Manager: Quality and Inclusion

About Nefertiti

Nefertiti Matos Olivares is a blind bilingual Latina who is deeply committed to ensuring that culture is a shared space for all. As a professional voice talent who specializes in Audio Description Narration with an extensive background in Assistive Technology and museum accessibility, Nefertiti fervently advocates for disability inclusion. She is passionate about creating culturally competent Audio Description and in her role as Workflow Manager: Quality and Inclusion for Descriptive Video Works, she is dedicated to developing pathways and frameworks for gainful employment for the blind and low vision community in the AD industry. Nefertiti is a member of the Social Audio Description Collective and proudly co-owns the Audio Description LinkedIn Group and the Audio Description Twitter Community where all things AD are welcome. She lives in New York City, loves to sing, and may enjoy “dad jokes” a bit too much.

Diane Johnson

Diane Johnson

Founder and Senior Advisor

About Diane

Diane Johnson put her years of broadcast experience, and her passion, to work on leading the charge in making visual media inclusive to all.

In 2003, she founded Descriptive Video Works. Her objective, to break new ground and remove old barriers by using audio description (also known as descriptive video) to make television, film and other visual media accessible to blind and visually-impaired viewers. Today, her company is recognized as the gold standard of quality in audio description and is known internationally.

As a vocal and tireless advocate for people who are blind and visually-impaired, Diane also devotes her time and expertise to maintaining standards of quality in audio description for the industry as a whole. She was the founding member of the Canadian Described Video Broadcast Committee and was instrumental in creating the Guidelines for National Best Practices. These guidelines were adopted by Canada’s broadcast regulatory body (CRTC). Diane also served as a member of the United Nations International Telecommunications Union Focus Group on Audio Visual Media Accessibility. Diane’s extraordinary energy for change has not gone unnoticed. She has received recognition for her outstanding contributions:

  • American Council of the Blind – Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description (2017)
  • American Council of the Blind – Audio Description Achievement Award – Media (2014)
  • Silver Stevie®Award – Entrepreneur of the Year, Canada (2014)
  • Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2011)
  • Profit Magazine’s W100 – Canada’s Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs (2011)
  • Finalist, RBC Trailblazer Award for Women Entrepreneur of the Year (2011)

Always humble about her exceptional accomplishments, Diane considers her advocacy for accessibility as her greatest achievement.

Juan Alcazar

Juan Alcazar

Advisory Council Member

About Juan

Juan Alcazar is a legally blind filmmaker and YouTube creator. He was born with Myopia, but also has Retinitis Pigmentosa. In 2017 he began his disability journey on YouTube after openly discussing his sight loss on his channel. He is now also an advocate for accessibility and hopes to spread the word about disability and blindness through the medium of film and video.

Empish J. Thomas

Empish J. Thomas

Advisory Council Member

About Empish

Empish J. Thomas is a freelance writer, blogger and research consultant. She was a diligent and long-time career columnist for 17 years with Dialogue Magazine. She also ventured into broadcast journalism by hosting and producing a radio show called Eye on Blindness with the Georgia Radio Reading Service for 3 years. When Empish is not working, she is writing about her life on her blog at www.empishthomas.com. She is a firm believer in giving back to her community and lens her writing skills to a website for the blind and visually impaired called VisionAware. She is also passionately reading books, listening to podcasts and watching audio described movies.

Shawn Marsolais

Shawn Marsolais

Advisory Council Member

About Shawn

Shawn Marsolais is the Founder and Executive Director of Blind Beginnings and a registered clinical counsellor. Growing up with a visual impairment, she was personally impacted by the limited support that was available to families raising children who are blind or partially sighted. Shawn is passionate about supporting children who are blind or partially sighted to reach their full potential. 

Shawn has worked with Descriptive Video Works since 2009, working together with focus groups of adults and children that are blind and visually impaired. Shawn is actively advocates for high quality Described Video programming.

To quote Shawn: “We are just the same as you; we just don’t see in the same way.”

Dr. Amy Kavanagh

Dr. Amy Kavanagh

Advisory Council Member

About Amy

Dr Amy Kavanagh is a disability consultant, activist and campaigner. She uses social media to share her lived experience navigating the world as a blind Londoner alongside her Guide Dog. Amy is committed to celebrating disability, mobility aids and encouraging others to learn about the social model of disability.

Brandon Cole

Brandon Cole

Advisory Council Member

About Brandon

Brandon Cole is a creature of many hats. Though primarily he refers to himself as an accessibility consultant, he is also a blogger, podcaster, streamer, youtuber, voice actor, and most recently, audio description narrator. He is totally blind, and has been nearly since birth, but isn’t about to let that stop him. He possesses a passion for bringing more blind accessibility to the world in any way he can. Through his consultation efforts, he has assisted in making AAA titles like The Last of Us Part 2 fully accessible to totally blind players everywhere. He streams both to entertain and to educate on game accessibility, showing both where we are now, and where we could be. He sees audio description narration, too, as a way that he can help provide the blind with access to content they may not otherwise have. Brandon is on the front lines of blind accessibility in gaming, though, and is confident this is only the beginning.

Ross Minor

Ross Minor

Advisory Council Member

About Ross

Blinded at a young age, Ross Minor is an accessibility advocate and consultant with a specialty in digital media and video games. He has a Youtube channel where he posts about accessibility and a Twitch where he shows the world how accessibility enriches his gaming experience.

www.RossMinor.com

Chancey Fleet

Chancey Fleet

Advisory Council Member

About Chancey

Chancey Fleet is a 2018-2019 Data & Society Fellow from Brooklyn, Chancey is a writer, organizer, and advocate that aims to advance public understanding and best practices in accessible technology.

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