West Vancouver Memorial Library Promotes Accessibility with West Van Reads Aloud
Audiobook recording program empowers volunteer narrators to create accessible materials for people with print disabilities
West Vancouver, B.C. – West Vancouver Memorial Library celebrates National AccessAbility Week (May 27 – June 2) by kicking off West Van Reads Aloud 2019, a program for which community volunteer narrators help create accessible digital audiobooks for people with print disabilities.
“According to the latest estimates, about 7% of Canadians over the age of 15 are unable to read standard print materials due to a visual, physical or cognitive disability,” says Community Experience Coordinator Lynn Brockington, who oversees the Library’s Assistive Services. “In West Vancouver, the demand for books in accessible formats is especially high, given the unique age demographics of this community.”
This year’s program is building on the success of the 2018 pilot, in which six volunteer narrators helped record an audiobook of BC Books bestseller On Island: Life Among the Coast Dwellers by Pat Carney. Narrators were trained, and supported by Library staff, in using audio recording equipment and software through the summer and fall. An accessible audiobook version of On Island was made available to eligible listeners through public library websites across Canada in December.
“It was fun, tiring, exhilarating and educational,” recounts volunteer Kyshirll Emianon. “It gave me a chance to learn a new program, spend time with some exceptional people and learn things about myself…like, I talk too fast.”
“There was definitely a learning curve,” laughs Community Experience Librarian and project lead Leila Meshgini. “But we were so excited at the possibility of making accessible in-demand content that wasn’t otherwise being made into audiobooks. It also provided us with an exciting way to engage the community by offering a new and meaningful volunteer opportunity.”
West Van Reads Aloud will resume this summer with its second audiobook recording, the 2017 collection Wherever I find Myself: Stories by Canadian Immigrant Women. Auditions will open in May — interested female narrators with pleasant voices, strong sight reading skills and who are comfortable using computers are encouraged to apply by June 10 by contacting Leila Meshgini at 604.925.7441 or email@example.com.
About National AccessAbility Week
National AccessAbility Week takes place every year starting on the last Sunday in May. It is a time when accessibility and inclusion is promoted across communities and workplaces and a time to celebrate the contributions of Canadians with disabilities. It is also an opportunity to recognize the efforts of Canadians who are actively removing barriers and ensuring persons with disabilities have an equal chance to participate in all aspects of Canadian society.
About Assistive Services at West Vancouver Memorial Library
The Library’s Assistive Services are available to West Vancouver residents who have a visual, physical or cognitive disability, and to those we are unable to travel to the Library. Once registered, people with a print disability can access a large selection of fiction and non-fiction titles on CD, MP3-CD and in DAISY format. The Library can also connect registered cardholders with materials that are free and accessible online, including through the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) and the National Network for Equitable Library Services (NNELS). For people who are unable to travel to the Library, we bring materials to people’s homes, or we can help arrange for a friend or family member to pick up items from the Library. The Library’s friendly Assistive Services staff also make regular visits to care facilities and senior residences in West Vancouver.
About West Vancouver Memorial Library
Open and welcoming to all, West Vancouver Memorial Library connects people with information, the world of imagination and each other. The Library attracts nearly 43,100 people to our facility and 54,500 to our website each month. The Library’s vision expresses a broad, aspirational state: Where wonder sparks, possibilities emerge and minds thrive. Our Library inspires people to grow in a dynamic world.
Celina O’Connor, Communications Coordinator