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RNZFB Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Talking Books

RNZFB Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Talking Books

Royal NZ Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB)
Media release
24 February 2006


RNZFB Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Talking Books Studios and Peeks into the Digital Future

Blind, deafblind and vision-impaired people check out more than 7,000 talking books and magazines from RNZFB’s library every week, which is testimony to its world-class narrators and the Talking Books studio, which celebrates its 40th anniversary on Sunday.

More than 150 RNZFB members, friends, and VIPs from government and the international blindness community will join in Sunday’s celebration from 2-4pm. It will include the naming of the HumanWare Narrator of the Year for 2006 and provide a sneak preview of a new digital talking book player which can receive titles over the internet. (RNZFB faces a multimillion-dollar cost in the coming years as it shifts from analogue tape to digital recording).

“It’s amazing to think we have produced over 47,678 hours of talking books and magazines, and approximately 2,100 miles of tape since the studios opened their doors in 1966. The joy our members get from this service cannot be underestimated. I will never forget one member saying that his trip to the post box to get his talking book each week was the only thing that kept him alive after he lost his sight in an accident,” says Mary Schnackenberg, RNZFB Adaptive Support Divisional Manager and talking book user.

Other Talking Book facts:

- Books issued since automated circulation began in 1986: 3,755,163 - RNZFB narrators: 500 in all; currently 36 - Most famous RNZFB narrators: George Henare, Elizabeth Macrae, Dorothy McKegg, Merv Smith, Michael Keir Morrissey

The Narrator of the Year Award was introduced in 1990 to recognise the invaluable work narrators do for RNZFB members. Those vying for this year’s HumanWare Narrator of the Year title include Andrew Laing, Elisabeth Easther, Elizabeth McRae, Fiona Samuel, Frances Edmond, Jo Crichton, John Callen, Lori Dungey, Maggie Maxwell, Merv Smith, Michael Keir Morrissey, Paul Barrett, and Wendy Karstens.


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