9 July 2007
Volunteers who produce ‘talking books’ for visually impaired readers at Oxford University were given a rare opportunity last week to meet each other, and one of the students whom they have helped, at a party in their honour.
Thirty-two volunteers come to the Accessible Resources Acquisition and Creation Unit (ARACU) office once a week to sit in soundproof booths and read out and record books that are needed by students, in any subject. Most of the volunteers, along with a representative of the University Disability Office, came to a party on 4 July organized for them by ARACU as a way of acknowledging all that they do. It was intended to be a garden party at Harris Manchester College, but because of wet weather it was held in the eighteenth-century college’s Arlosh Hall, where the High Steward, David Woodfine, gave a brief history of the college, and Michael Heaney, Executive Secretary of Oxford University Library Services, of which ARACU is a part, thanked the volunteers on behalf of the libraries for their invaluable work.
Volunteers do not necessarily meet the students whom they help. So they were especially pleased to welcome at the party a blind student (left in the photo with her guide dog), who has been using the ’talking books’ for her studies in English Language and Literature. Readers had to tackle books on Old and Middle English for her, as well as on Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf. She has just finished her degree.
Pimms, sandwiches, tea and scones were much enjoyed, along with lively conversation. ‘It was a very pleasant afternoon,’ said Teresa Pedroso of ARACU, ‘and our volunteers deserved it, after putting so much of their time helping us to provide a first-class service to the students.’
The party was a belated celebration to mark Volunteers’ Week; see also www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/news/2007_may_31
More on ARACU at www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/services/disability/aracu