Who we are

ADA is run by a dedicated elected executive committee who work for the association on a voluntary basis to support and inspire everyone interested or associated with Audio description and all it represents

The committee is made up of freelance describers, and representatives from the world of theatre and the blind and partially sighted community.

Committee Members:

Vidar Hjardeng MBE (Chair)

Vidar Hjardeng MBE
Vidar Hjardeng studied languages at Manchester University before completing a post-graduate Journalism course at London's City University.
Now Diversity Consultant for ITV News across England, Wales and the Channel lslands; Vidar spent over 25 years working for ITV in the Midlands, much of that time as Editor/Executive Producer on political, religious and social action magazine programmes before joining the ITV News Senior Management team, and for a number of years was a Consultant Producer with Channel 4's daytime political programme produced by ITN.
ln addition to being an Associate with the Business Disability Forum, Vidar is a motivational speaker, also delivering lectures at a number of universities and is a role model for the DWP's 'Fulfilling Potential Making It Happen' Campaign.

Vidar has reviewed audiobooks for Radio 4 and publications including The Book Magazine, Disability Now and The Financial Times and reviews audio-described Theatre, Opera and Ballet performances for RNIB’S Connect Radio. He is a Trustee with the RNIB Group, SHAPE, Performances Birmingham (which oversees the Symphony and Town Halls) and an executive'member with the Audio Description Association. ln the past Vidar has also chaired the national audio-description charity VocalEyes, as well as Virgin Train's Passengers' Panel. Vidar currently chairs Birmingham New Street's Access Forum as well as the Birmingham Hippodrome's Access Forum as well as being on the theatre’s board and is a trustee of the Leonard Cheshire Disability

Anne Hornsby (Vice-chair)

Anne Hornsby is the Director of Mind’s Eye Description Service, which she launched in 1992.

She has been audio describing since 1989 when she introduced Audio Description at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton - the second theatre in the country to offer AD.  At the time she was Head of Marketing and Front of House for the theatre.

Anne is privileged to audio describe over 100 events a year, including plays, musicals, dance, art exhibitions, and films, and also provides bespoke training for Museums, Galleries and other organisations, - most recently the Sir John Soane's Museum, Blind Veterans in Llandudno, the British Council, the Whitworth and the National Football Museum.

Anne has been a member of the Audio Description Association Executive since its inception in 1999.  She is a Volunteer Reader for her local Talking News.

Anne is the Editor of Action for Access published by Arts Council England and still available on their website.  In 2015 she was awarded the International Achievement Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

Pat Hayes (Vice chair)

Pat Hayes is a freelance professional audio describer who trained and qualified in 2005.  Based in Blackpool, she works all around the UK, mainly in the theatre, describing a wide range of genres, including drama, comedy, thrillers, musical theatre, pantomime and classics. She also provides audio description and touch tours at cultural events, such as Liverpool’s DaDaFest, and in museums, galleries and tourist attractions.  As a member of ADA's Executive Committee, Pat also has the role of liaison officer with Equity.
 You can make contact by emailing - adaequityrep@gmail.com

Jonathan Nash (Secretary)

 Jonathan has been a professional Audio Describer since 1992, and recently celebrated describing his 1,000 theatre performance. Together with Margaret Spittles and Julia Grundy, the three of them run a company called Sightlines who's client include: The Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Playhouse Weston-super-Mare, and the Birmingham Hippodrome. Jonathan was one of the founding audio describer for VocalEyes, for who, he still works. He is currently the Secretary and Membership Secretary for ADA, and is very proud to be member of the Audio Register within the actors union Equity. 

Mary Plackett (Treasurer)

Mary’s career in audio description began 25 years ago at the Duke of York’s in the West End as a volunteer with the London Audio Description Service. She later turned freelance and while describing at various venues in Greater London, most of her work has been with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, London and on tour. Mary joined Sightlines as a scripter for audio introductions to opera and ballet in 2012. She also trains on the Audio Description Association’s accredited course for stage describers, and edits ADA’s publications including its free e-bulletin Note Pad.  Mary can be reached at office@audiodescription.co.uk

Stef Bell

Stef Bell is an audio describer for Derby Audio Describers which provides services for theatres across Derbyshire for blind and partially sighted audiences.  Stef also chairs a voluntary community group, Scene and Sound, which provides an opportunity for member venues across the UK to market their access events.

Tim Calvert

Tim is a writer,  voice artist, and consultant, having graduated with a degree in Film TV and Radio in 2005 he went on to present a range of radio shows, produce a talking newspaper and entertainment magazine for the visually impaired in North Staffordshire, coordinate an access to entertainment forum for those with disabilities and has been a mentor for autistic adults for the mental health charity Mind. His current projects for the ADA include raising awareness, moving the website and social media forward , visiting theatres to promote audio description via facebook and soundcloud in the shape of audio features and developing a radio programme on audio description with the RNIB. You can contact Tim by emailing tjc21018@aol.com

Janine Graeme

Janine Graeme, spent 15 years working at a regional touring venue providing access to performances as a Marketing Officer (Access) along with creating accessible theatre experiences, she was also heavily involved with promotion not just of access performances and services but also of the venues main programme of events, booking and preparing materials for promotions. Currently Janine is working as a Specialist Teaching Support worker in a variety of schools to further enhance her knowledge to adapt theatre activities. Alongside this Janine is Regional and interim National Editor for NODA TODAY, you can read more on Janine’s Linkedin profile. Janine has been very active in recent years as an advocate for audio description and recently the audio description association and has been involved along with Tim in promoting services, raising awareness and overseeing the website and  social media.

Toby Davey

Toby is registered blind, a Guide Dog Owner and has been involved in the arts since he graduated from Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education in 1996 with a degree in Photography. He then moved to London to set up his own business as a freelance Photographer which he ran for a few years before finding his way into working at the BBC on arts radio programmes.  He then joined VocalEyes as Deputy Director in early 2006. 

Toby has always had problems with his eye sight which resulted from being given to much or too little oxygen as a premature baby.  His eye sight has deteriorated over the years but this has not stopped him enjoying the arts having found audio description in the early 2000s. 

Toby is very involved in developing the VocalEyes service both for blind and partially sighted people and the clients VocalEyes works with.

Paula Suchy

Paula Suchy MBE

Paula is a visually impaired person who enjoys the theatre and visiting galleries where audio description is available. She has been a member of the ADA executive since September 2015. She lives in Milton Keynes and is involved in a local Charity which helps Visually Impaired People with Reading, Shopping and Theatre visits. She volunteers for several Charities for Blind and Partially Sighted People and also represents their needs on other committees in MK. She is a founder member of the MK Theatre and Gallery Access Steering Group where she works to improve the facilities for Visually Impaired audiences.

Selene Burn

Selene Burn is Access and Equality Manager at the British Museum, where part of her responsibility is ensuring equality of access for blind and partially sighted people. Recorded and live audio description is an important tool to widen access to the Museum’s incredible collection. Previously Selene worked as Community Engagement Manager at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, supporting and developing audiences for audio described performances and touch tours. access@britishmusuem.org

Emily Noakes

Emily Noakes
Emily worked initially in Special Education Needs (SEN) for a local authority before moving to Theatre. Currently working in the Front of House team & Access Development at Nottingham's Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, for the past 12 years Emily has been helping to make the arts accessible to all.