Advisory council

The difference with Descriptive Video Works is our advisory council. Established as a research and development think tank, the council regularly liaises with our production team to ensure that delivery of our audio description services is best suited to the audience that requires them.

Collaborating with blind and visually-impaired viewers places us in the unique position of first-hand feedback. Through focus groups and information sessions, important information is shared with our writers, narrators and producers. This allows us to continue refining our techniques, delivering the best possible services to our clients.

The council is led by Rosamund van Leeuwen and Rob Sleath.

Photo: Mike Wakefield, NS News

Photo: Mike Wakefield, NS News

Rosamund van Leeuwen

Rosamund joined Descriptive Video Works in 2007. Blind from the age of two, she’s an advocate and educator for the blind and visually-impaired. Rosamund is the Chair of PAWS for Independence Association and a past Division Board member of CNIB BC-Yukon. She teaches workshops at Capilano University in the Special Education Assistance Program to help teachers of blind and visually-impaired students. She regularly speaks on behalf of local and national non-profit organizations who support persons with vision loss.

Rob Sleath

Rob began consulting with Descriptive Video Works in 2008. After losing his sight at age 36, he made a commitment to improve accessibility for the blind and visually-impaired. Rob is the founding member, President and Chair of Access for Sight Impaired Consumers (ASIC) as well as a CNIB Board Member.  Appointed as Chair of a regional Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee, he also provides disability awareness seminars to public transit operators. Rob is a spokesperson for Barrier-Free BC, a non-partisan campaign advocating for the enactment of a strong and effective British Columbians with Disabilities Act. He acts as an ambassador for Guide Dogs for the Blind.



Shawn Marsolais, M.Ed. is the Executive Director at Blind Beginnings. She is blind and a key member of our advisory council.

At the age of 12, Shawn entered a contest. In her words: “It was for a contest where we had to come up with an invention that would help people who are blind. My invention was TV-Communication – basically described video for TV and movies. My teacher of the visually-impaired just retired and came across my contest while cleaning out her office. Please remember, I was only 12 when I wrote this:”

My invention by Shawn Marsolais

“I think a problem that blind and visually impaired people have is watching the TV. When blind and visually impaired people turn on the TV they are always wondering what is happening. They can hear the voices but they do not know if the people on TV are kissing, hugging, going up or down stairs, running, etc. They do not know where the actors are. They might be at school, they might be shopping, they might be at a restaurant, or they might be on the street. Since this is such a problem for blind and visually impaired people, some do not even watch TV because it is so frustrating for them. But those who do watch TV often wonder what is happening.

My invention to help blind and visually impaired people is “TV Communication.” TV Communication would be a way for blind and visually impaired people to find out what is happening on TV. It would consist of an electronic box with earphones attached that would plug into any TV. It would be small enough to be portable, about the size of a Walkman or a small radio. It would come in a case so the blind and visually impaired people can take it with them. No matter where the blind and visually impaired people go, as long as they have their TV Communication with them, they will be able to watch TV.

The TV Communication would have a narrator who would explain to the blind and visually impaired person what is happening on TV. If an actor is going up the stairs or out the door the narrator would explain that. Whenever anything is printed on the screen the narrator will read it. For example, at the beginning of every show when they are showing the characters and the names of the actors playing them, the narrator will explain this.

The narrator is chosen professionally. This person will watch the final tapes of TV shows. When an actor does something that a blind person would not understand from voices and noises, the narrator would read on to a tape what is happening. He/she would do this for all movies and instructional shows, such as cooking and gardening shows and commercials. If there is talking while the characters are doing something the narrator will wait until the talking stops and then tell what just happened, so the blind and visually impaired person never misses anything. It would be good to have some seats in a theatre with the TV Communication attached so the blind and visually impaired person could plug in his/her earphones. In this way the blind and visually impaired could enjoy TV, movies and plays, just like everyone else.

Blind and visually impaired people feel different sometimes because they can not do everything normally sighted people can. I think this invention will make blind and visually impaired people’s lives more fulfilling because now they can watch and understand TV just like normally sighted people do”


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