Connecticut Talking Books Produced by Connecticut Volunteer Services for the Blind and Handicapped

Connecticut Talking books are audio books recorded by Connecticut Volunteer Services for the Blind and Handicapped, Inc. (CVSBH) for the Connecticut Library for Accessible Books (CT LAB).  Formed in 1979, CVSBH is a private non-profit corporation made up of over 250 volunteers statewide that record books, pamphlets and magazines for those who cannot hold or read standard printed material. CVSBH maintains five studios in public libraries around the state, namely, Hartford, Litchfield, Milford, Ridgefield and Southbury.  CVSBH has received numerous awards for excellent standards to ensure that blind and print disabled readers have access to the same range and quality of reading materials as the public library patron.

Three volunteers work together to produce a recorded book: a narrator prepares and reads the material into a microphone in a sound-proof booth, a monitor operates the computer outside the booth and directs the narrator while following along with a second copy of the material, and a reviewer listens to the recorded material in-between recording sessions to check for accuracy and quality. Each book in progress and each completed book is appraised by an evaluation panel made up of volunteers and talking book users. The panel forwards their comments and suggestions to the recording team.

Once the recordings are accepted, the digital audio files are electronically forwarded to the Library for Accessible Books.  The CT LAB puts the finishing touches on the audio files and has the recordings verified by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) quality control section.  Once verified, the audio book is uploaded to the Braille and Audio Recording Download (BARD) online website where they can be accessed by NLS patrons throughout the nation using their personal computers or mobile media devices, e.g., iPad, iPhone, Android devices, etc.  The titles produced by CVSBH are also submitted to the NLS’s on-line catalog.

Early audio books were recorded in analog format and produced on cassettes.  But for the past ten years, the recordings were in digital format but also produced in cassette form.  Through a very generous donation, a project is underway to take these older analog and digital book files and produce them in electronic media for dissemination on BARD.  Since nearly 2,700 titles have been recorded, this project will take a number of years to complete.  Once completed, all of the titles recorded by CVSBH will be available nationwide.    

An average sized book can take a year to record – including evaluation and duplication. Contributing time on a regular basis and a dedication to a long-term commitment are required. A command of the English language (foreign languages are helpful) and a background in literature are necessary to translate the written word to its audible meaning. Many of the books we record are about Connecticut and New England, Local history, information and books by Connecticut authors. People interested in volunteering or with suggestions of books and material to record, may contact the CT LAB Liaison to CVSBH, Laura DeFrancesco at (800) 842-4516 or (860) 704-2220.