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Foundation of the Blind Names Narrator of the Year

Foundation of the Blind Names 2007 Narrator of the Year

The RNZFB last night named Merv Smith as winner of the 2007 Narrator of the Year award, acknowledging his talent and his 38 years of service to the blind community.

Merv was presented with the award in front of RNZFB members, friends and VIPs from the blindness community who were gathered to honour talking book narrators and to celebrate 70 years of talking books in New Zealand.

“What makes Merv such a wonderful narrator is his talent for sight reading – he interprets materials as he reads, making for a conversational and personal experience with the reader,” says Mary Schnackenberg, RNZFB Adaptive Support Divisional Manager.

This marks Merv’s third Narrator of the Year award. Alongside his career as an iconic Auckland broadcaster, Merv has dedicated time to narrating approximately 100 titles for the RNZFB, including a vast selection of magazines and books.

Some titles narrated by Merv include My Life by David Lange, Uncle Trev’s Teeth by Jack Lasenby, Whitethorn by Bryce Courtney and Song of a Drifter And Other Ballads by Barry Crump.

Mary adds, “With less than 5% of printed materials available in accessible formats internationally, talking books are an absolutely essential service.”

In June 2007, the RNZFB Board of Directors agreed in principle to transition from the distribution of talking books on analogue cassette tapes to their distribution in electronic DAISY format over the Internet, directly into players in Foundation members’ homes. The transition is planned to begin in early 2009 and will take several years, requiring millions of dollars.

The RNZFB library provides services to over 5,600 members, lending more than 400,000 talking books and magazines annually. The Foundation’s library and talking books studios are funded almost entirely from voluntary donations.


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