A voice for the blind on hundreds of tapes

Volunteers/Where good neighbors get together

September 25, 1990|By Ellen Hawks | Ellen Hawks,Evening Sun Staff

IT IS A VERY satisfying experience,'' says Bill Carduff, ''to d something for someone that they cannot do for themselves.'' Carduff has volunteered to record books on tapes for the blind since 1962.

Hundreds of books have been recorded by Carduff on master tapes from which thousands more tapes have been made. Although he does not have much personal contact with the blind, he says, his voice is well known to many.

Carduff tapes for the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at 1715 N. Charles St. and for the Associated Services for the Blind out of a library in Philadelphia. He began by recording for the Library of Congress and has also made tapes for the Xavier Society for the Blind in New York.

Blessed with a clear resonant voice and no apparent regional accent, he records in a sound room he built in his home. ''I scouted around for building materials and some was donated to me,'' he says.

Carduff launched his taping career in 1962 after reading a magazine article offering suggestions for using a tape recorder. ''One of the suggestions was to volunteer to record for the Library of Congress, so I wrote a letter and they sent me a tape which I recorded on and returned. Then, for 15 years I taped books for them until they changed policies and hired professionals to read,'' he says.

Carduff, who will be 62 on Oct. 9, has lived in West Baltimore since the early 1960s and works as a socio-technical facilitator at Westinghouse Co. ''In short, we assist the engineers in doing their job.''

His wife, Jane, is a secretary at the University of Maryland Hospital, and they have three grown daughters, Sharon Caruso, Susan Cessna and Kathleen Cessna. ''Two of our daughters married brothers, and we have six grandchildren,'' says Carduff. He heads a Bible study group and is the lector for his church, St. William of York. He plays golf and has his own dark room for his photography hobby. He's also a participant in a study of diet and cholesterol for men over 50 at Francis Scott Key Hospital.

He does tapings for the Philadelphia library every month. ''They supply me with the machine and the tapes, and I record Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines each month,'' he says.

At the Maryland Library for the Blind, where he began taping in 1967, he tapes more on a seasonal and emergency basis. ''I record papers and books for the college students. Our busy time is September and January. There is not much coordination from the colleges because the students are not told ahead of time which books they will be studying. Then there is the rush to get the books taped at the last minute for them. What I do is record at least three chapters to get them started, then finish the book later,'' he says, lamenting the quality of some of the books he tapes. ''But, one good English lit book can make up for all the rest.''

While he usually doesn't get to meet the people who use his service, Carduff recalls that one time he read to a blind graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, which was ''a one-to-one pleasant experience.''

For the Xavier Society, Carduff has recorded 100 books, for which he won an award in 1970 from Citicorp, where he worked at the time. ''The award was $500 for the society, which was very pleased,'' he says.

The Maryland LBPH has a "pretty good selections of tapes, books in large print and in Braille. The library is too small, however, and a new one is being erected on the corner of Franklin Street and Park Avenue,'' he says.

James C. Partridge, library specialist, says that there are approximately 211,000 resource selections in the LBPH collection and the new building will hold triple that number.

''Sadly,'' says Carduff, ''the number of blind or physically handicapped who use the library is approximately 6,000 when there are 60,000 who could be using it.''

Applications of eligibility must be made to the library in order to use it. Those eligible include the legally blind, visually limited, those who cannot handle books or turn pages or those who have a disability such as dyslexia or who may be emotionally disturbed.

Library staff includes director Lance C. Finney, library specialists James Partridge and Elsie Leonard, and volunteer coordinator Cecile Fick.

To volunteer, call Cecile Fick at 333-2668.

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