"The Voice of Michigan History" recognized for 40 years at the mike

Richard Vogt began recording in 1967
Photo caption: Richard Vogt,
who began recording books
on open-reel tape in 1967,
is looking forward to the
conversion to digital.

When Richard Vogt began as a volunteer narrator for the Lansing Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Lyndon B. Johnson was in the Oval Office and Vogt’s oldest daughter was a senior in high school. Today, the Bell TelecomPioneer continues to record and all three of his daughters have been invited to join AARP.

It was March 1967 when Vogt first began narrating, after being inspired by an article in his local paper, the Lansing State Journal. He and his family lived near a railroad line, and passing trains made it too noisy for him to record books in the main part of the house. Vogt built a recording studio in the basement, stuffing the walls with insulation for soundproofing. "That first winter was great," he recalled."But during the spring, the room flooded and I’d have to record with my feet propped up to stay dry."

His first project, The Manual of Dark Room Procedures, took him five hours and was recorded on an old reel-to-reel tape machine. Vogt entered the completed recording in his log—a log which contains hundreds of projects on its now-yellowing pages.

Vogt’s family also has been active in the program. In 1967–68, when the reel-to-reel players changed recording speeds and had to be manually adjusted, Vogt loaded his 1956 Pontiac with the machines, drove home, and set up his wife and three daughters with screwdrivers in an assembly line on the kitchen counter. Once, while recording a somewhat dry history text for a blind history professor, Vogt called in his wife Flossie and asked, "You want to play Pocahontas?" "Why sure," she said, and sat in for a few of the women’s parts. The professor was so delighted with the audiobook, he called Vogt to thank him for a great listening experience.

When Raymond Kurzweil demonstrated his Kurzweil reader in 1976, Vogt was afraid his days as a volunteer narrator would be over. But after hearing one of those early Kurzweils himself, he realized there was still a need for the human voice in translating print materials to audio, so he continued recording.

In 1981, Vogt retired from the Bell Telephone Company. Six years later, the Vogts sold their home and most of their possessions to travel across North America in a 29-foot mobile home. They removed the extra bed in the overhang of the cab and shared the space; for Flossie it was a sewing room and for Richard it was a recording studio. The two became experts at seeking out quiet sections of state parks in which to record. For 22 years Vogt sent finished projects to the Lansing Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped from all over the United States and Canada, including Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.

Vogt started recording Michigan History Magazine—which currently has a circulation of 500—in 1992 and soon after became known in the state as "the Voice of Michigan History." He has also been labeled "the voice of God" by a patron who was thrilled with his recording of religious material. "He had to take some ribbing from the staff about that one for a while," said library manager Susan Chinault.

The toughest project Vogt faced in his 40 years of recording was X324, a police call frequencies manual for an amateur ham radio operator. He had to use a magnifying glass to read the manual and it took 120 hours to complete the project. His longest project, Medical Surgical Nursing, logged in at 132 hours.

His favorite books to record are farm memoirs and stories about farm life. His current project is a light summer reading piece, The Lake, the River, and the Other Lake, a 2006 Michigan Notable Book. His wife’s favorite is Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas, by Morgan Llywelyn. She was so enamored of the bits of the story she heard as he was working on it that he had to let her listen to the whole audiobook before he could return it to the library.

In 2004, Vogt and his wife moved back to East Lansing, within walking distance of the library. Now he can walk down to drop off finished projects and pick up new ones. "As Vogt wraps up his 40th year of volunteer recording he says, 'Bring on digital!' He’s ready!" said Chinault.

Cincinnati GE Volunteers celebrate milestone

Freddie Peaco and GE machine repair volunteers
Photo caption: NLS government
information/volunteer specialist Freddie
Peaco (center) joins GE machine-repair
volunteers Bernie Burdick (left) and
Dick Meyer as they celebrate their
50,000th repair.

Nearly 180 people filled the reception hall of the Sharonville convention center just outside Cincinnati on May 2, 2006, as the GE Volunteers Talking Book Reconditioning Project celebrated the repair of its 50,000th talking-book machine. This milestone was reached in just 16 years.

Bernie Burdick, chairman of the repair project, ceremoniously presented the milestone-making machine to Freddie Peaco, NLS government information/volunteer specialist, who in turn presented the group with a plaque of appreciation on behalf of NLS for the service the volunteers provide to the talking-book program. Peaco noted that the Cincinnati Chapter of GE Volunteers has saved the NLS program an estimated $2.6 million over the past 16 years. Burdick also presented the 50,001st and 50,002nd repaired machines to Hank Baud of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind (CAB) and Sandra Johnson from the Ohio regional library in Cincinnati. Scott Donnelly, president/CEO of GE Aviation, was the keynote speaker.

"The GE Volunteers Talking- Book Reconditioning Project, previously the Senior Elfun Talking-Book Reconditioning Project, began in 1989 with five GE retirees. On March 14, 1990, the first shipment of repaired cassette machines was sent to CAB," said Burdick. "Kevin Watson, now the equipment repair officer at NLS in Washington, was one of the repairmen who came down from the machine-lending agency in Columbus, Ohio, to train the group on March 6, 1989. We've been in continuous operation since. Today there are 95 active volunteers participating every Wednesday and Thursday, repairing amplifier boards, motor control boards, jack boards, and transformers, and rejuvenating batteries."

Volunteer stars honored at Oklahoma library

Gaylen Craig Day, a news anchor for Channel 6 in Tulsa, was named 2005 Narrator of the Year by the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (OLBPH). Paul Adams, OLBPH’s recording studio director, presented Day with a plaque during a special awards ceremony and luncheon on January 23, 2006, at the library. "Craig’s narration skills bring to life the material he reads, providing countless hours of reading pleasure to our patrons," said Adams. Day drives 200 miles round-trip to the library once a month to record the magazine Cowboys and Indians.

At the same ceremony, volunteer narrator and editor Linda Brown was honored as the 2005 Volunteer of the Year, and volunteers S. Jean Clark, Janine Hoffman, and Larry Morphis were given certificates from NLS for their exemplary contribution to OLBPH.

Fourteen volunteers attended the luncheon, hosted by Oklahomans for Special Library Services (OSLS)—the library’s friends group—along with library staff and several visitors from the state office of the Department of Rehabilitation Services and OSLS board members. "We extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our volunteer stars," said volunteer coordinator Vicky Golightly.

South Carolina volunteers spread the word about talking books

TelecomPioneer Ted Floyd
Photo caption: Telecom
Pioneer Ted Floyd’s name
was added to the plaque
of volunteers with more
than 10 years of service.

The South Carolina State Library hosted Volunteers Make a Difference Every Day, a volunteer appreciation lunch, at the library on April 5, 2006.

Freddie Peaco, the NLS government information/volunteer specialist, congratulated the volunteers on their accomplishments. "The work of volunteers reaches into communities that you may never be aware of and all across the country. Patrons with good working machines and plenty of books that are in good condition pass this message on to newly blind individuals in their neighborhoods and to eligible friends and relatives in other states, who are then encouraged to seek this service in their own communities. I know this happens because I have heard many such stories." State library director Patti Butcher and Talking Book Services director Pamela Davenport also offered thanks and words of appreciation to the volunteers.

Retired and senior volunteer program members
Caption: Retired and senior volunteer
program members (from left): Edna O’Steen,
Jennifer Derrick, Etta Petzel, Rose Marie
Patton, Naomi Bradey, Ruth Williams, and
Patricia Thornton.

Library volunteer coordinator Naomi Bradey gave special recognition to Alice Nolte, who has contributed more than 700 hours of service, and to Ted Floyd, a TelecomPioneer volunteer who has repaired cassette machines for 10 years. Nolte and Floyd will have their names added to perpetual plaques that are displayed in the library. During 2005, more than 50 volunteers provided more than 2,100 hours of service to the library.

Volunteer coordinator Naomi Bradey with Alice Nolte

Caption: South Carolina State Library volunteer coordinator Naomi Bradey (left) with volunteer Alice Nolte, who has logged in more than 700 hours of service.

Braille student-instructor dialog

The Braille Development Section receives numerous questions concerning a variety of problems in braille transcribing. This article addresses some of them. The question-and-answer format is intended to give clarity.

Student: I have just completed Lesson 19 in the braille transcribing course and am about to begin work on my 35-page trial manuscript for Library of Congress certification. After studying Lesson 20 in the Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribing, fourth edition, 2000, I am still uncertain about the type of book that I should choose for my trial manuscript.

Instructor: You are not alone. The print book used for your 35-page trial manuscript should be chosen carefully. It should not be so technical in nature that the student must concentrate on technicalities rather than on producing accurate braille. For example, a book that contains complex formatting problems that are not addressed in the instruction manual should not be chosen for the trial manuscript. A print book with pictures, diagrams, tables, or footnote references should also be avoided. On the other hand, the book should not be so elementary that it does not present average vocabulary and sentence structure. The book chosen for the trial manuscript must use vocabulary approximately at the level of a high school text.

Student: When I submitted my first 35-page trial manuscript, I failed to receive the minimum passing score of 80 that is required for Library of Congress certification. After studying section 20.12 of the instruction manual, it is still not clear to me whether I am required to submit 25 or 35 pages for my second trial manuscript.

Instructor: Section 20.12 of the instruction manual says that a perfect trial manuscript is given a score of 100, and that a score of at least 80 is required for Library of Congress certification. If the score on the first manuscript is between 75 and 79, a second manuscript consisting of 25 pages will be required. If the first manuscript receives a score of below 75, then 35 pages must be submitted for your second manuscript. If a successful score has not been attained after a third try, the student will need to wait 12 months and retake the braille transcribing course before submitting a fourth and final trial manuscript.

Student: I have a question about my third trial manuscript. It is my understanding that I can braille another portion of the book that I used for my second trial manuscript. Since I was unable to finish the chapter for my second manuscript, may I begin my third manuscript with that same chapter?

Instructor: No. Every trial manuscript must start at the beginning of a new chapter. You may choose any chapter from the print book other than the ones you have already brailled. Remember that the first chapter of the trial manuscript must always start on a new braille page.

Student: The book I have chosen for my 35-page trial manuscript contains a number of foreign proper names. In a number of instances, there is sufficient room to divide these names at the end of the braille line. However, the dictionary I am using to prepare my manuscript does not always show the syllabication of foreign proper names. How should these foreign proper names be treated in braille?

Instructor: A very good question. It is generally true that many dictionaries do not show the syllabication of foreign words and proper names. Therefore, extreme caution should be taken when dividing such words and names. If, after consulting all available resources, proper division cannot be determined, do not divide such words and names between braille lines.

Student: I assume then that a book that contains a great deal of foreign material should not be chosen for the 35-page trial manuscript.

Instructor: That is correct. Lesson 16 of the instruction manual provides some very basic instructions on how to transcribe foreign-language material in literary braille. However, a book that contains a lot of foreign words and phrases can be quite troublesome for a braille transcriber who is not familiar with a particular foreign language. Since there are specific rules for transcribing foreign-language texts into braille, it is recommended that a book of this nature should not be chosen for the trial manuscript.

In memoriam

Two volunteers provided 65 years of service

Richard C. Hamel: TelecomPioneer opened repair shop at Perkins

Richard C. (Dick) Hamel, 78, died at his home in North Andover, Massachusetts, on April 8, 2006. Marcelle Benefant Hamel, his wife of 56 years, was by his side.

Hamel devoted more than 20 years of service as a TelecomPioneer, during which he initiated the talking-book repair shop at the Perkins School for the Blind and served as the region’s talking-book machine-repair coordinator. In 1996, Hamel assisted NLS with the Volunteer Repair Project talking-book display in Denver, Colorado, during the TelecomPioneers general assembly meeting. In addition to repairing equipment, Hamel helped make checkerboards for blind persons, distributed braille playing cards, volunteered with the Special Olympics, and spent many hours serving veterans at VA hospitals in Bedford and Manchester, New Hampshire.

Hamel was born and raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He joined the U.S. Navy, serving in World War II. He began his civilian career with Western Electric as a tool and die maker, then moved to AT&T where he worked for 26 years, retiring in 1987. He was a member of St. Michael’s Church in North Andover, where he served as Eucharistic minister. Hamel was an avid gardener but his greatest enjoyment came from the time he spent with his family, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Hamel is survived by his wife; sons Richard R. Hamel of North Andover; Russell P. Hamel of Toronto, Canada; and Christopher A. Hamel Sr. of Auburn, New Hampshire; daughters Jacqueline (Andrew) Sullivan of North Andover, Cecile, (Bruce) Galloway of Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, and Robyn (Daniel) Pelletier of Derry, New Hampshire; son-in-law, Dennis Salois of Derry, New Hampshire; and 14 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.

Jeff Pemberton, one of the longest-serving volunteers for the Arkansas Regional Library for the Blind.

Jeff Pemberton
Photo caption: Jeff Pemberton, one of
the longest-serving volunteers for the
Arkansas Regional Library for the Blind.

Jeff Pemberton died on April 14, 2006, at age 93. Pemberton, shown here in February 2005 at the library’s 10² Talking-Book Club reception, received a plaque honoring his service as a TelecomPioneer with more than 45 years of repairing talking-book machines. In mid-2005, Pemberton’s rapidly deteriorating eyesight forced him to stop repairing machines. He became a patron of the library, using the very machines he had helped repair for so many years.

Volunteers master new skills

During the months of December 2005 through May 2006, 84 people received certificates in braille transcribing, 74 of which were awarded in literary braille transcribing, one in literary braille proofreading, seven in mathematics braille transcribing, and two in music braille transcribing.



Virginia Redd Valentini, Talladega


Earnest Austin, Phoenix

Tom Bogrand, Phoenix

Adam T. Castillo, Phoenix

Sherry Dawn Henry, Apache Junction

Fred D. Leslie, Tucson

Sara E. Nilsson, Phoenix


Raymond J. Hesser, Huntington Beach

Gaye Hults, Pacheco

Martin M. Perez, Folsom

Will L. Rhodes, Folsom

Tamara Robinson, San Diego

Joyce Ann Walling, Merced


Russell C. Garcia, Cheshire

Omar Guzman, Cheshire

Daniel M. Morgan, Cheshire


Heidi M. Tice, Wilmington


Linda Bero, Bradenton

Joan A. Boulay, Largo

Christina C. Brundage, St. Petersburg

Catherine K. Hilton, St. Petersburg

Mary Theresa Klein, St. Pete Beach

Roxanne Ludlow, Jensen Beach

Tanya M. Matthews, Orlando

Rebekah Ann Sheats, Monticello


Frank L. Belieff, Hardwick

Sally A. Luna, Douglasville

Donna Rokos, Powder Springs


C. William Hesse, Boise

Salvador Patino-Montejano, Boise


Karen Woodfork, Hoffman Estates


Laura J. Brauer, Wichita

Heidi Christine Johnson, Wichita

Rebecca S. Jones, Wichita


Thomas R. Wiesman, Lexington


Anthony Evans, Jackson

Pedro Guzman, Jackson

Daryl Recker, Belding


Jeffery David Rasmussen, Lincoln

Lester Wagner, Lincoln


Brad A. Brown, Indian Springs

David A. Clemens, Las Vegas

Antonio A. Colón, Las Vegas

John V. Hearne, Las Vegas

Baròn K. Holmes, Las Vegas

Deborah R. Little, Las Vegas

Kenneth E. White, Las Vegas

New Mexico

Sharon Thummel, Las Cruces

New York

Barbara A. Burns, East Amherst

Suzanne Cade, Churchville

Coleen F. Carey, Rochester

Joan K. Frankland, New York Mills

Suzanne G. Johnson, Rochester

Geralyn Zuzze, New York City

North Carolina

Theresa L. van Dyken, New Bern


Virgil J. Laster, Grafton

Calvin B. Speed, Grafton


Martha C. Cone, Corvallis

Sandra McCoy, Portland


Sharon Morgan, Cambridge Springs

South Dakota

Timothy J. Schaffer, Sioux Falls


Greg Borden, Littlefield

Michelle A. Haynes, Gatesville

Shane A. Hill, Littlefield

Shellee L. Kotschwar, Gatesville

Anne H. McKay, Garland

Tiffany Marie Stewart, Gatesville

Lentiona K. Taylor, Gatesville


Lisa Ahrensbach, Ogden

Michael W. Bush, Ogden


Govinda Bahadur Rai, Richmond


Terri L. Archibald, Spokane


Cindy T. Kaczmarowski, New Berlin


Jesus R. Arellano, Rock Springs



Judi Sorter, Vancouver



Kent F. Ray, Folsom


Angela Brewer, Dallas


Vadim V. Barannikov, West Lafayette


David C. Ruble, Anamosa


Jesus F. Perez, Las Vegas

James Tingley, Las Vegas


Dennis W. Helwig, Oshkosh


Lucille Giglio, Tampa


Elizabeth Gensler, Wooster


National Braille Association (NBA)

NBA Professional Development Conference, Antlers Hilton Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Thursday, April 26–Saturday, April 28, 2007.

For more information about these meetings, contact:

National Braille Association
Three Townline Circle
Rochester, NY 14623-2513
(585) 427-8260
[email protected]

California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH)

CTEVH 48th Annual Conference, Santa Clara Marriott Hotel, Santa Clara, California; Friday, March 2–Sunday, March 4, 2007. Preconference Thursday, March 1, 2007.

For more information about this meeting, contact:

For more information about this meeting, contact:
741 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029-3594
(323) 666-2211

Visual Aid Volunteers of Florida (VAVF)

VAVF 2007 Conference of Volunteers, Ramada Inn Mandarin, Jacksonville, Florida; Monday, April 16–Wednesday, April 18, 2007.

For more information about this meeting, contact:

Meg Wagner
VAVF President
8444 35th Avenue N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
(727) 347-9836
[email protected]

Tennessee hosts machine-repair workshop

Growing old is so much fun, everybody's doing it: book cover.
Caption: Fred Steele inspects his machine.

Volunteers and staff from the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (TLBPH); the Blind and Physically Handicapped Services, Mississippi Library Commission; the Alabama Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped; and the Kentucky Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped gathered for the first Mid-South machine repair workshop on August 31, 2006, at TLBPH in Nashville.

Terry Corn, Bill Kirby, and Barbara Penegor

Caption: Terry Corn (left), Bill Kirby, and Barbara Penegor of the TLBPH review the machine inspection checklist.

Fred Steele and Joel Gittelson

Caption: Fred Steele (left) and Joel Gittelson work on a cassette player.

Masthead Information:

Update is published quarterly by:

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542

Correspondence should be addressed to the Publications and Media Section.

To change address or cancel subscription, please enclose mailing label.

Publication editors:

Ingrid Davitt

Coordinating editor:

Freddie Peaco

Braille student-instructor dialog:

John Wilkinson

Publications and Media Section
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542


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Posted on 2011-01-10

Posted on 2011-01-10