* Have a pleasant, easily understood reading voice * Can commit to volunteering on a consistent basis to record at least a book a month * Have a home computer and moderate computer skills * Have a quiet environment in which to record
Materials being read:
Materials can be either straight forward text such as in Biographies or Christian Living books by authors like Max Lucado, Charles Stanley, or Joyce Meyers; or they can be more complex reading such as Bible studies that require looking up multiple verses and inserting them into the text. As much as possible we try to match narrator and reading materials. A narrator can make or break a book.
Who will be reading the books we record?
All CARE patrons are either blind or visually impaired or have a reading disability that prevents them from reading regular printed books. Certification of disability is required in some cases unless they are already receiving services for the blind elsewhere where certification is required. Recordings are all in English. Some books we record at CARE Ministries may be available commercially elsewhere, but those materials cannot be duplicated and distributed due to copyright restrictions. The Chaffee amendment referenced above allows for materials read and distributed in alternate formats for persons who are blind. All CARE Ministries digital materials can be read on special digital players available at no cost from the Library of Congress, National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
CARE is a national interdenominational ministry and we have served people from 48 denominations and all 50 states. Some people have used our materials to teach Bible Studies or participate in Bibles studies offered by their churches, and others have used them for their own spiritual development and growth.
Technological Equipment and Recording Software
Audacity is a free open-source audio software that can be downloaded and used on almost all modern computer operating systems and smart phones. It is fairly easy to use but has instructional videos and clear instructions on the website. Go to audacityteam.org or search audacity on your smart phone app store to download and get more information. It has a visual audio track grid so you can “see” voice levels as your recording. Files can be saved, edited and played back easily as well.
Microphones and Computers
Most modern computers have internal microphones that vary from good noise reducing quality to static laden and tinny. You will have to try a sample voice recording and play it back to see how good the quality is. If you notice it being unclear or with a lot of background noise, you can purchase a USB microphone or USB microphone/headset. I suggest a noise cancelling microphone as it reduces background noise and uneven volume levels. A good quality USB microphone can be obtained for about $30.00 as I’m writing this.
Computers less than 7 years old should have an operating system updated enough to run Audacity or another audio recording software suitable for narration. Check the audacityteam.org site for specific requirements to be sure your system is compatible. Audacity is compatible with the vast majority of modern computers, smart phone and related devices.
Stand -Alone Recorders
A stand-alone voice recorder is also an option for creating voice recording when none of the options above are available or comfortable. These devices range from bigger “shoebox” style recorders to smaller handheld devices. Most modern devices of this type have outputs to digital storage mediums such as USB memory sticks or SD cards. Although the quality of the recordings is generally acceptable it is usually inferior to software-based programs. They also have fewer features and adjustments so environmental conditions have to be more controlled. This method is not recommended due to much better software options.