Community members are making learning a little easier for visually impaired UCSB students and Santa Barbarans this week, as yesterday marked the first day of the Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic’s 12th Annual Record-A-Thon.

Local volunteers – including a few UCSB students – are donating their time to the organization’s yearly event by digitally recording their own readings of popular literary works so their content is accessible to the visually impaired. Tim Owens, executive director at RFB&D’s Goleta studios and UCSB alumus said the volunteer-run event is the group’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

Owens said the organization hopes to raise $45,000 in donations through the program to support RFB&D’s yearlong efforts.

RFB&D’s Santa Barbara chapter directly serves some 500 visually impaired and dyslexic members of the local community, including students at UCSB through the Disabled Students Program on campus.

One local beneficiary of RFB&D’s past Record-A-Thon efforts is Jeane Adamson, who decided to get a bachelor’s degree from UCSB despite losing her sight completely at the age of 38.

According to Adamson, the help of RFB&D’s audio books and a few student volunteers gave her the tools she needed to graduate with honors from UCSB’s Law & Society Program in 2003.

“I’m so proud of the community and the UC kids,” said Adamson of the assistance she received. “It’s really important for students to be involved; honor societies, fraternities, sororities. It is vital to have this connection. This is our constant goal.”

Fourth-year communication major Margaret Morallo, who is participating in the efforts, said volunteers kicked off the Record-A-Thon with a 24-hour marathon reading of this year’s ‘UCSB Reads’ book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Morallo said she has been working to spread awareness of the Record-A-Thon within the UCSB community.

“So far, we haven’t generated as much student support as we would like,” said Morallo. “We encourage students to call RFB&D and volunteer to participate for Monday’s marathon or for reading throughout the week.”

Other titles that RFB&D hopes to have volunteers record during the event include Louis Sachar’s Holes, Steve Crandell’s Silver Tongue: Secrets of Mr. Santa Barbara, In An Instant by ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff and My California, the official “Santa Barbara Reads” public library book for 2006-07.

After being recorded by RFB&D volunteers, the audio versions of the books will be sent to the organization’s national headquarters in Princeton, N.J. These recordings are then available on a loan basis to the over 180,000 dyslexic, blind, or physically impaired persons who benefit from the organization’s audio library.

Those interested in volunteering to read for the Record-A-Thon or at RFB&D during the rest of the year are encouraged to call the Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic group’s Goleta studios at (805) 681-0531.

Additional information about Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic is available at