Yes, you and your voluptuous voice are needed to record books!

A few weeks ago it was brought to my attention that there is a closed-circuit radio in Minnesota broadcasting 24 hours a day that specifically serves the needs of the blind, visually impaired, and Deafblind. It's the radio service from the Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB). That, I thought, was pretty incredible. But not only that:  they also turn printed materials into braille (including charts and geometric figures--absolutely brilliant work) and transcribe books, articles, textbooks, magazines, and other reading materials into audio recordings. And of course there are machines that need to be maintained and for anybody who likes to tinker, this would be right up your alley!

Of course, some printed materials may already have been recorded by someone else or is publicly available, but let's say you were a client of the SSB and you were starting a new job. There is a manual of information you need to know before you start your training at your new job (let's say new regulations in insurance law) that is not available in a format you need, like an audio CD. You would then contact SSB, send them the materials, and your manual gets scheduled for recording. The Volunteer Coordinator matches your manual with a volunteer (or two) who has experience reading law materials, and when that volunteer comes in for her (or his) weekly time slot, she would then begin recording your manual.

If it's a long manual, then you would receive a couple of CDs. For our example's sake, let's say the recording requires 2 CDs. As soon as the volunteer completes the first portion of the manual, the CD gets sent out to you. You'll need a specially coded CD player so you can listen to it, because it's in an internationally standardized encoding called DAISY. Since you've been listening to a lot of work-related materials lately, and you're used to the lingo. Go ahead, press the button:  you can speed up the recording and absorb the material as a speed-listener. The beautiful sound of the reader's clear (and trained) voice stays at the same pitch.

Soon thereafter, you receive the second CD in the mail and voila! You've got all the information you need to begin training for your new job. Congratulations!


This is one of the most collaborative, positive, productive services I think I've ever heard of. The SSB volunteer website tells that $1.7 million in work hours is donated by volunteers on a yearly basis. A service that is truly amazing and generous--on all sides.

For more information on how you can volunteer your time, please click here or call 651-642-0500 or 800-652-9000.