Simon Vance & Learning Ally

The importance of audiobooks for those with disabilities was Voice of Choice narrator Vance‘s topic in his most recent blog post. I know the resources available through Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) and  the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) are life-changing – the continued response to my Booklist article “That All May Read” has shown me that listeners of all ages depend on these services. If you serve patrons or students who have vision, physical or learning disabilities, please take time to learn about the huge variety of materials available for free – and if you have a family member that qualifies, assist them with signing up! In years past, specially-formatted audios came through the mail, but now digital technology allows instant downloads and app-based access. Many times, those with vision or learning disabilities are frustrated when a particular title is unavailable in a commercially-available audiobook through a vendor or public library – yet that same title (and hundreds more) are readily-available through the NLS, or you may even request that Learning Ally record that title for you! The amazing volunteers who record for these organizations provide a marvelous service and often go on to become top audiobook narrators – here’s what Vance has to say about…

Creating audiobooks for the blind, partially sighted or dyslexic.  When I began 30 years ago we recorded on reel-to-reel 1/4? tape machines and had one engineer between two recording studios – yesterday there was one engineer to each narrator and everything was recorded onto a computer’s hard drive using rather strange software.

I’m choosing this topic for my first blog on the re-designed “me” website because yesterday I donated some time in support of Learning Ally’s Record-A-Thon (the organization formerly known as “Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic”) and had a wonderful morning down at their studios in Palo Alto which made me recall the many pleasant hours I spent at the Royal National Institute for the Blind’s Talking Book Service (now more than 75 years old) in London in the 1980?s.  I always say it’s where I served my apprenticeship in audiobook narration.

Find out more by visiting the link to Simon’s blog & exploring both the NLS and Learning Ally websites!



About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

1 Comment on "Simon Vance & Learning Ally"

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  1.' Doug Sprei says:

    We at Learning Ally are grateful to volunteers and advocates like you and Simon Vance — for drawing public attention to the critical role that accessible materials play in the lives of people with print disabilities. Countless thousands of students benefit from great volunteer voices across the U.S. — bringing books to life in an accessible format that levels the educational playing field and enables them to achieve their best.

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