Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Honored for Excellence in Accessibility Leadership
On Saturday, August 15, 2009,
In 1981, Margaret and her late husband Cody were recruited by Wayne White at Arena Stage to use their expertise to develop a system for live commentary and narration techniques for theatrical productions. Thus, they developed the unique art and technique of Audio Description, and the Arena Stage’s production of “Major Barbara” was the first play in D.C. to be audio described.
After their success at Arena Stage,
Margaret and Cody became tireless advocates for making theater, television,
film, museums, and exhibits accessible to people who are blind or have low
vision. They travelled the
Today a corps of dedicated Washington Ear volunteers, trained by Margaret, Cody and Bill Patterson of Audio Description Solutions, continues to provide Audio Description at performances in many of the major live theaters in the Metropolitan area. Margaret remains active in the training of these volunteers.
In 1990, Margaret was awarded the prestigious Emmy award for her leadership in the field of accessible television for viewers who are blind or have low vision. She has pioneered in the fight to make information access a normal part of everyday life for the visually impaired community. In 1991 Margaret took another innovative step and launched a Dial-In newspaper service that was one of the first in the country. In 2000, her support of access for individuals with disabilities and testimony before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were in large part responsible for its decision to require broadcasters to adopt technology to provide video description via a secondary audio programming channel.
Margaret was one of the founding members of the International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS). In 2003, she received the C. Stanley Potter Award from the IAAIS. This award is named for the father of radio reading. It recognizes and honors outstanding contributions to the Audio Information industry. It is an award that she cherishes.
Margaret has always had an acute awareness of what could and should be done to make information access, in its various forms, a normal part of everyday life for the visually impaired community. Under her continuing leadership, The Washington Ear provides innovative services for listeners and callers. She continues to provide leadership in this field and is widely respected and sought after for her expertise.
Congratulations to Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl!