Radio for the blind and print-disabled
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Volunteer Opportunities

 

Reading for the blind and print-disabled

Audio-Reader, an audio information service for anyone who has difficulty reading standard printed material, airs more than 160 hours weekly of printed matter and special information to thousands of listeners throughout Kansas and western Missouri. Service is provided via closed circuit radio, Lions Telephone Reader and on CD or NLS cartridge. This unique programming is made possible by volunteer readers who record or broadcast the various newspapers, magazines and books offered through Audio-Reader.

Audio-Reader volunteers include high school and college students, teachers, doctors, homemakers, retirees and many others. They have a diversity of backgrounds and interests, but all share a common desire to help provide current information to those who can't read daily newspapers, magazines and best-selling books.

Audio-Reader has studios at the Baehr Audio-Reader Center, 1120 W. 11th Street in Lawrence; Alphapointe, 7501 Prospect Avenue in Kansas City, MO; and the Homer Cole Community Center, 3003 N. Joplin Street in Pittsburg, KS.  Some volunteers read from home. Your location and reading assignment will determine where you read.

Would you like to become an Audio-Reader volunteer? The following information will assist you in making that decision.

What are the qualifications for volunteering?

Before you are eligible to become a volunteer broadcaster for Audio-Reader, you must take and pass our audition for reading aloud. The audition consists of a 100-word pronunciation test a series of reading samples designed to test your ability to read a variety of materials written for a variety of reading levels. The reading test, which takes about 30 minutes, is recorded at our studios in Lawrence. Alternate arrangements may be made for those auditioning to read from our Kansas City and Pittsburg locations.

Because Audio-Reader serves a primarily adult audience, and because many younger teens do not have the vocal maturity and vocabulary necessary to pass the audition, Audio-Reader prefers to accept volunteers age 18 and older. 

How can I prepare for the audition?

The audition is a "cold" reading, so good sight-reading skills are essential. Although there is little you can do to prepare for the audition, you might find it helpful to consider the following list of characteristics by which your test will be evaluated:

Good pronunciation skills are essential. The best way to practice is to read aloud from different newspapers so you can get a feel for the writing and editing styles, narrow column widths and types of vocabulary used.

Your audition will be evaluated for above average pronunciation skills, clear diction and voice quality. In addition, your reading should:

  • Flow smoothly, free from objectionable disturbances and frequent hesitations.
  • Be appropriate to the type of material being presented. It should be expressive, not exaggerated; relaxed, not stilted.
  • Exhibit a pace which is easy to follow and appropriate to the material being read.
  • Bring the material to life. It should make the listener want to hear more.
  • Be read in a voice free from distracting qualities like hoarseness.

Our audition changes annually. All words and articles are taken from materials we read on a regular basis. Here are a few words similar to those found on the audition:

  • archetype
  • loquacious
  • indigenous
  • obsequious
  • camaraderie
  • beleaguered
  • sesquicentennial

Your audition will be evaluated within a week. If you do not pass the audition on your first attempt you may be invited to spend some time practicing and re-take the test at a later date.

What will I read for Audio-Reader?

Assignment of reading material is determined by the volunteer (you) and the Coordinator of Volunteers. Decisions are based on the volunteer's interests, reading skills and schedule, and by the needs of the program. You will not be asked to read anything that is personally offensive to you. Most reading material is furnished by Audio-Reader.

Make Audio-Reader your project. It's rewarding and fruitful, the need is great, and there is much to do.

To find out more about volunteering for Audio-Reader, or to schedule an audition, call or email Jennifer Nigro, our Coordinator of Volunteers:

 

Audio Description

Audio Description is an accessibility tool that enhances a theatre performance or other visual event for people with vision loss.  Description can also be beneficial to enhance literacy and comprehension among sighted patrons.

An Audio Description volunteer describes the visual elements of a performance, display or event using succinct, colorful language.  You might call it play by play for your favorite play!  Describers will describe sets, costumes, action and visual jokes as they  happen.  This is done without talking over the actors on stage, except in VERY rare instances.  We also read program notes and describe the performance facility.  Describers are sometimes sent in pairs, other times solo, depending on the venue.  Current relationships include Theatre Lawrence, The Lied Center and Crafton-Preyer Theatre (KU campus) in Lawrence; Starlight Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre and Carlsen Center (Johnson County Community College campus) in the Kansas City area; and Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy in Topeka.  

Requirements:

  • Pass audition (this will be given after the potential volunteer goes through an informational session about the process. It may also be possible to listen to a live description prior to auditioning.)
  • Be willing to participate in ongoing training to remain active.
  • Have the ability to drive to and from the assigned venue in your personal vehicle.
  • Be able to attend at least two performances for every assigned description-- once to preview, once to describe (previews are provided at no cost to the volunteer and they are often permitted to bring a guest).
  • Be willing to put some time into preparation for each description (looking up information about the show, learning correct pronunciations, etc.).
  • Have the ability to lift a large suitcase of heavy equipment.
  • Be able to learn to set up the equipment used to broadcast the descriptions (you'll receive training).
  • Have a good vocabulary and be able to think quickly.
  • Be available evenings and weekends

 

Sensory Garden

The Audio-Reader Sensory Garden is filled with flowers, herbs, and textures to delight the senses. Plants with interesting colors and textures intermingle with fragrant leaves of herbs and various sounds of nature. Everyone can enjoy the restorative benefits of being in nature, including individuals with vision and other sensory impairments.

We are currently looking to add a few more regular volunteers to help in the Sensory Garden. Our garden volunteers typically meet for about one hour per week. Please call 785-864-4600 or email mjohanning@ku.edu for more information.

 

For more information about these and other volunteer opportunities, contact our Coordinator of Volunteers at (785) 864-4604 or jnigro@ku.edu.


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