Reading So the Blind May Listen

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Imagine 1948. Soldiers returning from the war, many anxious to move on with their lives using the new GI Bill to improve their education and career opportunities. But what about those blinded in service to our country? What could be done for them? Ann T. McDonald had the answer. Record textbooks on tape. Since then, RFB&D (Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic) has recorded innumerable books for blind and dyslexic students from kindergarten to graduate school.

Every week for two hours I join other volunteers entering a small recording studio, putting on my headphones, adjusting my microphone and reading. There are no paid professional recording artists at RFB&D, just people like you and me with a desire to help. Although I rarely meet those who listen to my voice, their success is well-documented. It often means the difference between success and failure in school.

Education has played an important role in my life. I've been fortunate. I am honored to be able to ease the path of others. I don’t volunteer because someday I may need help, too, although I might. Or because it makes me feel good, and it does. I volunteer because it’s my responsibility as a member of a community.

I encourage you to look into becoming an RFB&D volunteer. It doesn’t require special skills, although having a clear reading voice is a plus. You may have skills you’re not even aware of. Can you speak, or can at least pronounce, a foreign language? That’s helpful. Are you in a health care field? Your skills are valuable in pronouncing medical procedures and pharmaceuticals. I read a lot of social science, research methods, and English grammar, because that’s my educational and professional background. Check out the RFB&D website for more details See you at the studio!

Nancy K. is an Administrative Officer for the Agricultural Research Service, an arm of the United States Department of Agriculture. She started her federal service with the US Forest Service in 2001 after twenty years in the private sector.

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