Saturday, December 8, 2007

Volunteers Record for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at the Ridgefield Library

Here is a follow-up to last week's article about the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, contributed by Gretchen Bishop, an active volunteer with CVSBH and the Friends of the Library and a 2007 recipient of the Phyllis Paccadolmi Award for dedicated service to the Ridgefield Library.

“This book has been recorded at the Ridgefield Library Audio-book Production Unit…” With these words Ridgefield narrators introduce every book they record for the Connecticut Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. In all, sixteen Ridgefield volunteers help transfer the written word to spoken word so that books can be enjoyed by those who cannot readily see to read.

Recordings take place in a basement room of the library that few realize exists. A narrator sits in a sound proof booth facing a window. On the other side, a monitor operates the computerized recording system. All material, which is copyrighted, must be word perfect. If a narrator says “this” rather than “that,” it must be corrected. A separate reviewer's job is to check recordings against the text, noting errors to be corrected at the next recording session.

Sandy Corday, the current Ridgefield coordinator, was herself disqualified as a narrator because of what she laughingly calls her “New Yawk” accent. Unflappable, she trains new volunteers on the equipment and trouble shoots as needed. She is also Ridgefield’s liaison to the statewide program, known as Connecticut Volunteer Services for the Blind and Handicapped.

Some books take over a year to complete. A few pose unique challenges. The graphs and charts in “Stone Walls of Connecticut” had to be read in a way that was comprehensible to a blind person. Other titles range from “Two Towns of Provence” by M.F.K. Fisher to “Shalamazoo”, a children's book read by author Joe Shaboo. The Ridgefield unit has also recorded Connecticut Magazine for CRIS, the Connecticut Radio Information System, the state's "talking newsstand for the blind and print handicapped."

One of five production units in the state, the Ridgefield studio has been in operation since 1978, and new volunteers are always welcome. To audition to be part of a narrator-monitor team or to offer other assistance, leave a message at the Library for Sandy Corday.

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