Looking for a volunteer opportunity that can have a deep and lasting impact on the lives of others? Take a closer look at the fun, challenging and useful ways you donate your time and talents at State Services for the Blind.
Without the generous contribution of time and talent from our energetic volunteers, we could not produce the 750,000 pages of Braille that we do each year; record nearly 1,000 books into audio; prepare and record thousands of hours of programming for the Radio Talking Book or repair thousands of audioplayers. In any given year, our volunteers contribute close to 2 million dollars of in-kind contributions. Thank you for considering joining them!
Reading aloud can be a pleasant experience. It can also bring a world of printed material to those who are visually impaired or otherwise unable to read print. SSB's Communication Center depends on volunteers to record standard print. We make custom audio recordings for students, individuals and organizations, as well as broadcast books, magazines and newspapers on our Radio Talking Book, 24/7 reading service.
A minimum three hour commitment every week throughout the year, barring vacation or illness is what we require. You can record either at the Communication Center's own studios in St. Paul's Midway area, or you can record at home as long as you have a quiet place for recording. We'll provide equipment and assignments.
We record a full-range of print materials and subjects without censorship, including fiction, non-fiction, magazine articles, newspapers, textbooks, leisure books and a wide variety of business and organizational materials.
Our volunteer readers must be able to read aloud without previous preparation and with a high degree of accuracy and clarity.
Reading aloud is very different than reading to yourself. If you love to read and feel you have expertise in this area, you want to share your joy of reading with others.
You may be someone who can help bring printed words to life for those who cannot read standard print because of a qualifying visual, physical or reading disability.
One of the most necessary reading characteristics we require is the ability to read aloud without previous preparation - and to do it well.
You must be able to follow instructions, correct mistakes and be accurate in your reading and pronunciation. Additionally, you must have clear diction and your reading must:
Sound interesting? Test yourself on the following words:
If you can pronounce 18 out of the above 20 words without hesitation, and have the reading qualities just described, you may want to apply to become a recording volunteer.
To be accepted as a recording volunteer, you must first pass an oral reading test. The oral reading test consists of nine parts: 1) word pronunciation; 2) general reading; 3) literature; 4) poetry; 5) drama; 6) specialty term tests (optional); 7) newspaper; 8) humor; and 9) a children's story.
If you are interested in becoming a reader, test yourself by pronouncing aloud the twenty sample words. If you can pronounce at least eighteen correctly and with confidence, request an application . After you submit an application, we will contact you about scheduling a reading test.
If you are interested in other volunteer activities, please call our offices at (651) 539-2300 (Twin Cities Metro) or toll-free (800) 652-9000.
We produce audio recordings with digital markers that allow listeners to easily navigate through the material. Before an item can be recorded, we must create a digital structure of these markers that will be inserted into the material.
Volunteers, using a special computer program, prepare books for recording (textbooks, leisure and books for broadcast) by creating and programming digital markers for the parts, chapters, sections and pages of books that will be inserted into the book during recording.
If you are detail oriented and a sequential thinker, we need your assistance to prepare books for recording.
For more information and an application, fill out this request form .
Historically, braille has been transcribed in the United States by volunteers using manual braillers. Now, much of that work is done through transcription software, but we still have a need for volunteers who have a knowledge of braille. In addition, the Braille Section of SSB draws on the talents of our volunteers for other important work
Volunteers scan material into a computer file so that a Braille translation program can be used to create embossed Braille. Basic computer knowledge is needed and training is provided. Knowledge of the various Braille codes is not required.
Typists volunteer to type material that is not able to be scanned. Typists also "clean up" material that has been scanned so that it can be translated into braille. Knowledge of word processing and accurate typing are necessary for this volunteer position. Knowledge of the various braille codes is not required.
Scanning and typing volunteers are required to provide three to four hours per week during regular business hours at the Communication Center.
Tactile graphics volunteers assist in producing the drawings that are required in mathematics books and other drawings, such as maps, that are required in textbooks. Drawings are prepared by tracing, freehand drawing or using a computer design program. Training is provided and the time required varies with the project being worked on.
This position requires that the volunteer has been earned Certification as a braille transcriber by the National Library Service (Library of Congress) in Washington, D.C. The training for certification takes about a year to complete and is available locally. Upon certification, training is available in transcribing textbooks. The braillists, using computers, either one of their own or one provided by us, transcribe in their homes. At least one braille volume of about 70 pages is required each month.
The Communication Center loans our customers special Cassette Book players and Digital Book Machines provided to us by the National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (NLS-Library of Congress). These machines play specially formatted tapes and digital books provided by us and the NLS to our customers. Volunteers clean and repair these Cassette and Digital Book players.
Basic electronic knowledge is helpful, but mechanical ability and good manual dexterity are necessary. Attention to detail is vital in providing quality repair to these machines.
A commitment of four hours per week on a continuing basis is required. Training, tools, and work space are provided during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, at the Communication Center.