"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." -Mahatma Gandhi
Recorded Recreational Reading for the Blind is a not-for-profit recording studio in Peoria where trained volunteers read and record material for people who can’t read, often because of low vision or physical limitations. For many reasons including aging, when eyesight fails or something happens with hands or arms or shoulders that impedes page-turning, reading print material becomes a challenge.
RRRB RECORDS IN THREE STATE-OF-THE-ART STUDIOS
The studio runs on volunteer power. Volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds – educators, business owners, librarians, insurance, military, government – from all over the country. Many have retired and their volunteer service offers them a new career. Many volunteers are readers. Others select what is to be read, help with clerical tasks, oversee website and social media. All volunteers are focused on the mission: to record reading materials for people with visual or physical limitations.
Readers, also referred to as narrators, read from inside one of three sound booths at the studio,
wearing headphones, speaking into a microphone. They are trained to read what has been written word for word, enunciating clearly, with voice inflection and cadence. Each reader makes an effort to speak softly and as if the content being read is of interest and great importance to the listener.
Sitting outside the sound booth, also wearing headphones, a volunteer director listens to and records what is being read. The director stops the reader as corrections need to be made in the recording. It’s the director’s job as sound engineer to make the recording as error-free and sound-perfect as possible.
Some of what is read at the studio is at the request of the Arizona Talking Book Library. For example, volunteers read and direct recordings of periodicals with content about Arizona history, wildlife and sometimes material designed to be of particular interest to Arizona seniors. As completed, the recordings are encrypted and audio files returned to the library for distribution to patrons on request.
Studio volunteers also read for library patrons who have books they can no longer read but want to listen to. These patrons are referred to RRRB by the library for what is termed “single reader” books. The reading and recording process is much the same as described earlier. During the reading, a volunteer director records what is being read, word-for-word, making sure the written and spoken words synch. Once completed, the requestor’s book is returned to them along with an audio version on a flash drive.
The recording studio is a 501(c)(3) organization run by committed volunteers, and it exists to serve the community. Local authors are a part of that community. As long as the author owns the copyright, our volunteers are trained to convert the author’s printed material to audio. Once the process is completed, the audio files are returned to the author who may choose to uploaded them to a site that makes it available for sale. While these volunteers are capable, they are not professionals. Professionals are often cost-prohibitive to the beginning author, especially when there may be little or no income from the audio book sale. Studio volunteers provide an alternative. We at RRRB believe in audiobooks, in local authors, in audio listeners and in our volunteer talent.
There’s more. The West Valley Talking News is a big and very satisfying aspect of our operation. This weekly audio news magazine is now over 50-years old. Each issue has 12 segments, 8-10 hours in length, the content of which is selected by volunteers from a variety of newspapers targeting news in the west valley. The selections are overseen by our office manager and each segment is read and directed by different volunteers, fine-tuned and assembled by the program director and made ready for our listening audience. Volunteers prepare the cartridges containing each issue which are delivered to them by the post office. Those who subscribe say good things about the West Valley Talking News, pleased with the variety, and thankful that it helps them stay in touch with the community even when life makes it more and more difficult for them to connect.
Anybody with access to the internet and our website can access the West Valley Talking News anytime of the day or night. Simply click on the “LISTEN!” tab to find the podcast. The same is true of KRUV Radio Sun, a digital radio station owned and operated by volunteers at Recorded Recreational Reading for the Blind. It is on the air all day, every day.
Going forward we could use help getting out the word about who we are and what we do. It’s great when we find volunteers. And it’s great too when we find people who want our help – to read books or stories or poetry or who want to receive the West Valley Talking News. And we especially appreciate authors who will trust us to read their books for audio production. We are beginning to look “outside the box” so to speak, reaching out to teachers of special needs kids to find a way we might become a teaching resource using audio. If children need help that we can provide, our volunteers intend to serve with their reading and audio production skills.
Our goal: to read and record for others for as long as we can. Our budget is small, and it takes money to keep the doors open. Donations are always welcome and may be mailed to Recorded Recreational Reading for the Blind at 9447 North 99th Avenue, Peoria, AZ 85345. You may also make your donation through our website on the "HELP US!" tab.