When mom and I discovered a week or so ago that our books had been produced in audio form by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Disadvantaged (BARD), we were elated. We posted on Facebook and received many positive comments. I realized, however, that not many people understood why were so excited.
Believe me reading fans, it isn’t because we’ll be making any money. We don’t make a cent and can’t reuse the audio form ourselves. We’re excited because this opens up an entire new world of minds to the adventures of Sam Osborne. The people who are BARD readers have either a visual or physical challenge that makes it hard for them to hold a book or see the words. BARD works through regional libraries to provide a service that allows them to listen to a narrator read the words.
One of the reasons Mom and I (and every reader I know) love books so much is that reading allows you to put your own spin on a story. You visualize the characters in your head as you go, make up the scenes in your mind as the words feed you more information, give your own spin on what the hero or heroine is like, filling in their motivations as you pick up more and more details from the plot. With movies or television, someone is telling you what to see. With books, you’re making it up and interpreting as you go.
Mom would not be able to read at all if not for BARD and other mobile reading programs. My smart brother bought her an iPad several years ago. We can download audible books from the library and other sources. Mom also has one the readers the Virginia Department of the Blind sends out that takes special BARD cassettes. Those two sources of books have become a vital part of her existence.
Our books were suggested for the BARD system by Merilee, a wonderful woman who works for the department of the blind and is trying to teach mom braille. Once someone applies to have a book or books put into the system, the material then goes through a qualification system. If accepted, the Library of Congress finds a narrator to read the books into the system.
Mom and I sat in Mom’s living room with her iPad this past Sunday, searching on the BARD system for “Swope” and “Fate” and up pops the first four books as one download. A few minutes later, we hear the voice of a talented reader start from the very beginning of Twist of Fate.
The reason this is significant is that mom has never read one of her own books. She has files on her iPad of each of the books that allows her to listen to a computer voice read word by word. But it’s just not the same as having someone put the right inflections into the language. We both had tears in our eyes by the time the narrator read through the acknowledgements. Mom is finally reading her own books.
So are thousands of other people who could not do so without help from talking books. Sam Osborne and the other characters in our Fate Series have come alive for a huge new audience. Who wouldn’t be thrilled? — Genilee Swope Parente