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The following information was provided by Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D) and is used with permission.

What is Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D)?

RFB&D is the nation's educational library for people who cannot effectively read standard print because of a disability such as a visual impairment or a learning disability like dyslexia. Across the United States, more than 91,000 students use RFB&D's taped textbooks. Currently, RFB&D has over 83,000 titles in its Master Tape Library, ranging from Dr. Seuss to Introduction to Biology to Quantum Physics and Black's Law Dictionary.

Our mission is to create opportunities for individual success by providing, and promoting the effective use of, accessible educational materials. Our vision is for all people to have equal access to the printed word.

Recording for the Blind - as we were originally known - was founded in 1948 by New York City philanthropist Anne T. Macdonald in the attic of the Yorkville Branch of the New York Public Library. Mrs. Macdonald's idea to record textbooks for blind students was inspired by a number of letters received by the library from blinded veterans of World War II who wanted to pursue a college education on the GI Bill but could not because college texts were not readily accessible.

From those beginnings, RFB&D grew to include textbooks and other educational materials at all academic levels, from kindergarten through graduate school. In 1995, we changed our name to Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic to reflect the growing number of people with learning disabilities who use our services as a successful accommodation.

What are print disabilities?

Print disabilities are impairments that prevent people from reading standard print due to a visual, perceptual or physical disability. RFB&D believes that all people should have ready access to the printed word - regardless of their disability.

How does RFB&D help people with dyslexia?

Dyslexia, the most common type of learning disability, refers to difficulty with reading. RFB&D taped textbooks provide an accommodation for students with dyslexia because they encourage a multisensory approach to learning. Students report that hearing the words while reading along greatly enhances their comprehension, reading speed and retention. In fact, recent studies have confirmed that people with dyslexia show greater activity in the part of the brain that processes sound and less activity in the area where the written word is processed.

How are RFB&D textbooks different from other audio books?

Unlike other companies that provide popular titles and periodicals, RFB&D provides only textbooks, educational and reference materials to people with disabilities who learn through listening. Another difference is the equipment. RFB&D uses four-track audio tapes and tape players instead of the standard two-track tapes most commonly used by the general public. This means that more recorded material fits onto fewer tapes.

Is RFB&D keeping pace with advances in technology in education?

RFB&D is now beginning to transition from analog to digital recording which combines the human voice and synchronized electronic text. By late 2002, RFB&D will have available to our members a core library of up to 3,500 of our most requested titles on CD-ROM. Digital audio textbooks can be played on a specialized CD player or on a standard multi-media PC. Additionally, textbooks on CD-ROM level the playing field for students who learn through listening by providing immediate access to information and unprecedented navigation by page or chapter. These functionalities make digital textbooks more effective study tools. CD textbooks from RFB&D will also offer new convenience for students. The contents of a standard textbook can be accessed from a single compact disk which will hold up to 45 hours of recorded material; a standard textbook requires eight to twelve four-track cassette tapes.

How are books converted into taped textbooks?

More than 5,700 skilled volunteers in 32 studios across the United States read and record textbooks used by RFB&D members. While all readers are welcome, there is always a need for readers specializing in math, the sciences, computers, foreign languages, the fine arts and music. RFB&D requires readers have expertise in the subjects they are reading to ensure fluent, accurate and consistent presentation of material as well as detailed descriptions of any visual material in the book such as graphs, charts, maps or diagrams. A training period is required for all volunteers, who may also help with educational outreach, fundraising, public relations and computer coding reference books.

Where is RFB&D located?

Member relationships are maintained and orders are received, processed and shipped from the Master Tape Library at RFB&D's national headquarters in Princeton, NJ. Nationwide, 32 volunteer recording studios are located in 30 cities:

Peoria, AZ

Miami, FL

Upland, CA

New Haven, CT

Troy, MI

Orland Park, IL

Boston, MA

Palo Alto, CA

Carpinteria, CA

Phoenix, AZ

Athens, GA

Oak Ridge, TN

Washington, DC

Princeton, NJ

Reseda, CA

Lenox, MA

Santa Ana, CA

Winnetka, IL

El Segundo, CA

Chicago, IL

Austin, TX

Boca Raton, FL

New York, NY

Denver, CO

Williamstown, MA

Santa Barbara, CA

Louisville, KY

Los Angeles, CA

Naperville, IL

Charlottesville, VA

How is RFB&D funded?

In fiscal year 2000, a full 82% of every dollar donated went directly into services for our members. As a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, RFB&D relies on the generosity of private donations from individuals, corporations and foundations, whose financial and personal contributions fund more than 61 percent of RFB&D's budget. RFB&D also receives funding from the federal government and some state governments. Volunteer services accounted for nearly $16 million of RFB&D's budget in fiscal 2000.

Who can use RFB&D's services?

Anyone who can provide documentation of a print disability is eligible to become a member of RFB&D.

For new individual memberships, there is a nominal one-time sign-up fee of $50. The yearly membership fee is $25. These fees are charged to cover a portion of costs - RFB&D incurs no profit from these fees.

Students may also become members through their school. Schools may join RFB&D through the Annual Institutional Membership (AIM) program. Currently, there are nearly 4,000 schools, colleges and school districts registered with the AIM program. RFB&D has also launched an educational outreach initiative. Its goal is to provide one-on-one help in grades K-12, educating teachers, students and parents about accommodations for students with learning disabilities.

How can I contact RFB&D?

For information about volunteering, membership or making a donation, contact RFB&D's national headquarters at 20 Roszel Rd., Princeton, NJ 08540, call (800) 803-7201 or visit RFB&D's web site at www.rfbd.org.