How To Volunteer as a Reader For The Blind and Partially Sighted

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Woman and man of Asian descent listening to audiobooks on an iPod

Have you been looking for a way to give back?

Interested in narrating audiobooks?

Why not consider narrating audiobooks for the blind and partially sighted?
Canadian vision health charity, CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind), offers a program that voice talent or people, in general, can apply for to become narrators for CNIB.

Learn more in this article on VOX Daily.

Volunteering Your Voice For The Blind

You might remember me writing about’s relationship with CNIB, Canada’s vision health charity. There is a branch of CNIB here in London, however, all audio recording for their library takes place in Toronto. I thought that this information might be of interest to anyone who either lives in Toronto or its surrounding area.

The CNIB Library is unique among Canadian libraries because it creates most of the books in its collection. These materials are offered free of charge to approximately three million Canadians who are living with vision loss or are print disabled.

The CNIB’s Audio Publishing department produces fiction and non-fiction titles, as well as magazines, for the Library Collection. This work is done almost exclusively by their highly skilled corps of volunteers.

Studio volunteers work either in pairs or solo. In pairs, volunteers work together, each taking turns narrating while the other acts as a recording technician and ensures the narration is accurate. In solo work, volunteers act as their own technicians, narrating while also operating the recording software. Because of the nature of the work, all Audio Publishing volunteers need to have English as a first language or equivalent mastery, and be able to narrate a wide variety of materials which may or may not be to their taste. Excellent computer skills, hearing, vision, stamina and manual dexterity are also required. You may be asked to read for a full 3 hours with a 20-minute break.

Are You Interested?

To apply to be a library volunteer at CNIB in Toronto, you are welcome to submit an application form. Here’s a link to where you can download the application:
CNIB Library Volunteer Information and Application Form
If you’re interested in reading for the blind but live outside of Canada, you can get in touch with your national vision health organization. In the US, there are a few you can get in touch with, one of them being LARRS (Los Angeles Reading Radio Service) whom we’ve covered before on VOX Daily.

In the UK, you can contact RNIB to see how you might volunteer your services. In fact, if you’d like to get involved this month, RNIB has a fundraiser going on through the month of October called Read for RNIB.

Have You Volunteered Like This Before?

If you’ve done any volunteer work reading for the blind or partially sighted, I’d love to hear from you and learn more about the organization you volunteered with!

Best wishes,

Image courtesy CNIB

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  • Eila
    October 6, 2011, 1:57 pm

    Hello Stephanie,
    After reading your article about volunteering for the blind or partially sighted, I am happy to say that for the past 2 years I have been producing a weekly Business Week podcast for, working with a group of incredible volunteers who love what they do.
    The Audio Internet Reading Service helps those who are blind, sight-impaired, reading-impaired, low-vision, or who suffer diseases that make it difficult or impossible for them to read. Their mission is to provide podcasts (audio recordings) of news, information, and entertainment that’s otherwise inaccessible to them. The board of directors and staff of this non-profit corporation is composed entirely of volunteers, all of whom have experience in broadcasting to this type of audience.
    If you would like to know more, or to volunteer your time, please contact – and join our group of dedicated volunteers.
    Thank you.
    Eila Ulyett
    British VO

  • Pier Mallory
    October 7, 2011, 9:29 am

    I volunteer weekly with GARRS (Georgia Radio Reading Service), reading the Atlanta Journal-Constitution live to the blind and visually impaired. Giving back feels wonderful!

  • Julie Williams
    October 7, 2011, 10:48 am

    Voice-Overs.Com been producing a monthly podcast for the blind for more than four years, now, for AIRSLA in Los Angeles. They’re always looking for people to commit to read articles of specific magazines every month.
    Chuck Burke has been administrating the podcast for a while now. In the past Bobbin Beam has done that, as have I.
    Some of the talent who participate, include:
    Chuck Burke
    Doug Turkel
    Penny Abshire
    Bobbin Beam
    DC Goode
    Julie Williams
    Darla Middlebrook
    Kara Edwards
    Larry Wayne
    Harlan Hogan
    Dave Shropshire
    This is not a conclusive list… I compiled it from memory! Chuck has the complete list of our Reader’s Digest podcast volunteers… I’ll post more later!
    Meantime, if you’d like to hear our work… you can do that here:
    Reading for the vision impaired is a great way to get experience, and it’s a good feeling to know you’re helping enrich people’s lives. Sometimes I don’t give it a second thought. Then I hear from someone who’s life was so enriched by the availability of monthly magazines… and am so glad for doing this podcast!
    If you’d like to volunteer for AIRSLA, you can contact Joe Jurca at

  • Matilda Novak
    October 7, 2011, 1:16 pm

    It was my work as a volunteer recorder for the Los Angeles Braille Institute on Vermont, that led to my narrating audio books!
    I realized, in the process of reading aloud for long stretches, that I was Good at it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus, I received such wonderful letters from some of the recipients of those recordings!
    It was an incredible blessing for me as well as for them. I Highly recommend volunteering in this way to any voice actor —.

  • Julie Williams
    October 7, 2011, 2:10 pm

    I’d like to add the rest of our volunteers not mentioned above!
    Connie Terwilliger
    Janet Ault
    Dave Courvosier
    and Dawn Harvey
    We also mourn the loss of one of our storytellers this year, Debbie Weiser.

  • Steve Krattiger
    October 9, 2011, 11:19 pm

    Hi Stephanie!
    As Julie mentioned above, AIRS-LA is a huge resource for periodicals and audio for the blind and vision impaired. Based in LA, but we have readers, and listeners from all over the globe.
    I’ve been reading and producing podcasts for AIRS-LA for well over a year now (AARP and Smithsonian magazines).
    It’s a great group of people, and a great cause!

  • Bob Dargan
    October 11, 2011, 9:04 am

    I am presently reading once a week for the internet radio station at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind. Several volunteer readers read for an hour or so once a week from various newspapers around the state, concentrating on stories of human interest, etc. that might not be covered in the local, daily newspaper, or aired on TV and radio.
    It’s an enjoyable and good experience for me.

  • Elinor Bell
    October 19, 2011, 6:55 pm

    In northern California two more options for volunteering are at Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco and the CA State Library’s Braille and Talking Book Library in Sacramento. Over the years I’ve worked for both of them. Great people, very dedicated to the service they provide!

  • Mearl Santos
    February 4, 2013, 10:33 am

    I want to volunteer to read for the blind. I live in Contra Costa County.
    Do you know of an organization near Brentwood, Antioch, Tracy, etc.

  • Roger Stephens
    October 10, 2014, 1:54 pm

    For the last four years I have been reading and recording unabridged books for the Calibre Audio Library, in Aylesbury, Bucks., UK. I have completed nineteen so far, whose titles can be viewed on the Calibre Audio website.
    I record them at home using the Sound Forge Audio Studio on a computer supplied by Calibre, strictly for work done for them and send the result back to Calibre on a memory stick.
    It seems unlikely, given the distances involved but I am keen to broaden the scope of what I do, and was wondering if there was any possibility I might occasionally be able to do similar work for you using my own laptop.
    Best wishes,
    Roger Stephens