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Vol. LVIII, No. 1
January 13, 2006
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Recording Program Opens Up a World of Learning
 
  Portrait of a volunteer: Cristina Poscablo enjoys her work as a volunteer reader for RFB&D. Of her stints in the NIH studio, she says, "Time goes by so quickly! I wish I didn't have to leave."

You might never guess that a little recording studio can be found tucked away in the basement of Bldg. 31, offering a volunteer opportunity for NIH employees. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, a nonprofit organization that provides recorded textbooks for students with print disabilities, established a satellite studio there 5 years ago. With headquarters in Princeton, N.J., RFB&D units in cities around the country rely on more than 5,800 volunteers to produce recorded textbooks in all subject areas.

The Washington, D.C., unit, located at 5225 Wisconsin Ave., NW, hosts about 400 volunteers weekly who read, direct the recordings, prepare books for production and do a variety of other jobs. In recent years, the organization has been faced with a much greater demand for high-level science texts than can be fulfilled at the main studio. To help meet this demand, RFB&D established the recording space at NIH for the convenience of scientists and medical experts who can record college and post-graduate-level science texts. NIH volunteer readers fill a gap by sharing their science and medical expertise.

Longtime volunteer and current board secretary Dr. Henry Metzger, scientist emeritus at NIAMS, first heard about RFB&D through a board member who put him in contact with Celia Hooper, special assistant for communication in the Office of Intramural Research. Hooper and others were recording books in the first temporary studio at NIH.

"The project of recording biomedical and related technical books at NIH seemed like such a perfect match that I started working with the staff of RFB&D to get support for a bit of dedicated space so we could increase our hours of recording," said Hooper. "With the help of Dr. Michael Gottesman and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management, a permanent space was finally established."

Cristina Poscablo, a post-baccalaureate trainee who works in the Laboratory of Mammalian Genes and Development, NICHD, is a new volunteer in Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic's NIH recording program. After an hour a week of training for 3 weeks, she is ready to read on her own.

"We take for granted what is so second nature to us," Poscablo said. "We do a lot of our learning through reading. For the blind and dyslexic, it's not so easy.
Science Readers Needed

RFB&D's most critical need is for specialists such as chemists, physicists, physicians, computer scientists and mathematicians. It provides all necessary training on recording equipment and asks for a 1-hour per week commitment for a minimum of 6 months. If you can help, contact Kathryn Sparks at (202) 244-8990 or ksparks@rfbd.org.
This is such a great opportunity to give them another avenue for learning...to gain the same knowledge that I've been able to learn and enjoy."

Poscablo heard about the recording studio in Bldg. 31 through a friend in her lab who also volunteers. She is currently reading a college- level laboratory book on human anatomy and physiology and is excited about volunteering her time so close to her place of work. During her years at Rutgers University, she enjoyed volunteering at the local rescue squad. In recent months — with moving to D.C. and getting settled in a new job — she hasn't had much spare time. "It's been about a year since I've been able to volunteer regularly and I'm glad to be doing it again. I love using my expertise in sciences and math to help those who have difficulty with reading."

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