Audio Studio For The Reading Impaired

11403 Park Rd., P.O. Box 23043

Louisville, Ky 40223

 

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A look at Our Past

 

Our History

 

Born to meet a growing need 

In 1968, Recording for the Blind, a national agency established to produce audio textbooks for schools, outgrew its space on Haldeman Avenue in near-downtown Louisville. Ruth Drennan Carmichael, who was active in the blind community, was instrumental in having a new recording studio set up in the Anchorage Presbyterian Church to augment the agency's output. This was "Ruth's church" and it generously provided the space for the new facility rent-free.  

During our early years at the new Anchorage location, we operated as a unit of Recording for the Blind with volunteer readers and monitors. In 1981, however, plans were being made to close the facility when Recording for the Blind no longer required the additional production capacity.   

A new, independent resource for the blind 

Ruth Drennan Carmichael and "her family" of volunteers and clients of the Anchorage operation weren't about to let go. They recognized the needs of blind and other reading impaired persons for life-enriching reading materials that Recording for the Blind had never provided and were not available from other sources. They formed the nonprofit Anchorage Studio for the Handicapped to purchase the recording equipment and booths in the Anchorage Presbyterian Church and to continue its valued and growing service. 

It was tough going at first. Thanks to some personal support from a few dedicated Studio devotees, we were able to secure a loan from what was then Liberty National Bank (Now Chase Bank).   And John Ames, the pastor of Anchorage Presbyterian Church, allowed us to continue using Sunday School rooms rent-free. By the way, that generous arrangement exists to this day and is vital to the Studio's continuing operation. 

Gaining community support 

In 1984, Hayden Heaphy, after a long career at General Electric, took the reins of the organization when Ruth Carmichael retired. Through his efforts and the dedicated support of many others, the Studio began to make a name for itself in the community and began receiving critical help from many key companies and organizations—help which enabled us to pay off our original loan. Among them were the Younger Woman's Club, the GE Employee Community Fund, the GE Foundation, the Al Schneider Foundation and the Lions Club, Other important supporting groups were the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, AARP, The Gheens Foundation, the James Graham Brown Foundation, Brown & Williamson, Chase Bank and numerous church organizations and individuals.  

Our reputation spreads 

From the beginning, our recording teams—volunteers all—produced audio books and periodicals for widespread distribution through the Talking Book Libraries in Kentucky—filling gaps left by other agencies. This major effort was provided at no charge. Along the way, we also recorded materials requested by individuals and billed modestly for such custom work. Many outstanding Kentucky organizations have called on the Studio for its special recording services as well. Among them are: the Filson Club, Kentucky Historical Society, Jefferson County Public Schools, Southern Baptist Convention, TARC, the Louisville Chamber of Commerce and the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.  

Diversifying our services  

In 1988, the Studio entered into a cooperative venture with the Kentucky Talking Book Library to repair the tape players used throughout the Library of Congress Talking Book network here in Kentucky. The arrangement was an important step in diversifying our services. Under the guidance of Dave Berg, a retired GE engineer and one of our original team of repair volunteers, these services were expanded to include Braille typewriters. General Electric retirees continue to play an essential part keeping our own equipment "up and running" and in serving the needs of other agencies that serve the blind and reading impaired. 

A new name 

Hayden Heaphy served on the Board for six years and was replaced as Chairman in 1990 by Bob Noll, another retiree from General Electric and a dedicated believer in the work we were doing. Under his guidance, our name was changed to Audio Studio for the Reading Impaired to better reflect our mission and the variety of narration and recording services we were being called on to provide.  

Today more than 90 volunteers narrate, monitor and proofread materials that assist reading impaired individuals in all walks of life. Other Studio volunteers provide the technical support needed keep Braille typewriters and specially adapted cassette players used with Talking Books tapes operating efficiently. 

And why we succeed  

When you try to put the history of an organization like this in a nutshell, you soon realize there's no room to give credit to all who deserve it. But our Studio Directors should be at the top of the list. The first was Payney Chescheir who worked with Ruth Carmichael in the very early days of our "independence." Jackie Cothren followed and headed up the Studio in 1982 and 1983. Sandy Koukola took over and served as director until 1990 when Betty Zielinski signed on for the job. These are the folks who were—and are—worth far more than we could ever pay. But there are those, too, who willingly volunteer to lead us. Carmichael, Heaphy and Noll to be sure. And now Bill Huff, current Board Chairman whose goal is to guide us into the world of digital technology so that we may continue to improve the work we do and the way we serve.

 

 
 
 
   

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