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The Walworthians: Descriptive Voice Service

The Walworthians

 

A collection of telephone interviews published in the Wayne County STAR Newspaper and Wayne County MAIL Newspaper, 1994-209

by Kate Chamberlin

 

Descriptive Voice Service

January 28, 1998

I went to the public library to borrow a video with DVS. DVS is a Descriptive Voice Service that provides a narrator who describes the action.

Some sighted folks find the talking disruptive, but us blind folk find it imperative if we’re going to get anything out of the video.

The DVS videos are marked with braille on the spine and kept in with the regular videos. I ran my fingers over all the tapes, but they were all checked out. You can imagine my disappointment and frustration.

Since my motto is: When life rolls you a lemon, make lemonade, I went over to the books-on-tape section. No braille here, but my husband read the titles to me and I made my selection.

The Talking Books I get through the mail from the National Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired are all marked with braille. It is quick and easy to find tape one/side one, etc.

The commercial tapes aren’t marked with braille, so the first thing I have to do in preparation to listening, is to have a sighted friend check to be sure the tapes are in order with side one up and where the first tape is located in the carton or “book”. And, woe be unto me if I drop the carton and the tapes fall out!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my current selections have paper (albeit, print) on side one which I could feel. Side two was smooth. This saved me a lot of time and frustration from losing continuity when changing tapes and sides.

The next difference I noticed was when I started to listen to “The Personal History of David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens.

It was like an old radio program! There were horses clopping, knocks on the door, the crackle of a blazing fire and lots of personal characterizations through voice inflections and style.

My first thought was that students listening to this book being read wouldn’t get any literary value out of hearing this. There were no “he said” or she said”; no tag lines. How would the student know what was really written in the book and what was put there by the reader? Forget about spelling!

However, by the end of the first tape I found tears streaming down my cheeks at the funeral of David’s mother and then laughing out loud with the clumsy, good-natured attempts of the cabby to capture David’s nurse maid’s heart.

I found the cockney accent a lot easier to understand when it was spoken rather than if I’d had to read the print. Here the voice inflections emote better than the print could have. Perhaps it is precisely that emotional factor that will keep the story in the student’s mind longer.

The second tape I “read” was Dickens’ Great Expectations. This one was a more accurate reading of the printed text. It included tag lines, descriptions and other mechanics of the printed text. While there were no crackling fires, the reader did excellent voice identification for each character. It was easy to tell who was talking, where they were and a sense of the times.

I suspect listening to classics and other stories on tape will not and should not replace reading the printed or brailled text for yourself if you want to learn about writing mechanics and spelling, but there is no denying the impact of listening to a good book.

Maybe our subconscious is remembering the good feeling of when our Mommy held us on her lap and read to us.

‘“The Personal History of David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens

BBC Radio Presentation, 1994, Bantam, Doubleday, Dell Audio Publishing, NY, NY.

‘”Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens

read by Gene Engene, Books In Motion, Spokan, Washignton,

recording copyright 1990.

2019 Up-Date: I rarely use the library tapes these days. I down-load books and magazines directly from the National Library Service, using the BARD system, then, transfer the down-loads to my Victor Stream Reader. Once I learned how to do it, it’s fast and abosolutely fabulous.