Disability Services broke ground Thursday allowing the university to become one of the first educational institutions to have the technology to digitally record textbooks.
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, a non-profit organization, provides textbooks and other educational materials on compact discs for individuals who are blind, dyslexic or are unable to read standard print.
The new technology will make it possible for students throughout the Knoxville area to hear the information in their textbooks on a compact disc.
Dean of Students Maxine Thompson said she believes the technology will become a viable asset for the entire Knoxville community.
“We think this is a great connection between the community and the University of Tennessee,” Thompson said. “It benefits the university in a number of ways and will be great resource for students and the community.”
Teressa Gregory, the coordinator of Hearing and Visual Services at UT, said the new equipment was a crucial addition to the university.
“Last semester, we had over one hundred books that needed to be recorded, so there is a definite need for it here on campus and in the community,” she said.
The new equipment is an extension of the RFB&D unit in Oak Ridge, Tenn., which has provided materials for people all over the United States.
Oak Ridge Mayor David Bradshaw said the audio recordings have become an important staple for members in his community.
“I really see this technology growing, and I would expect that there will probably be the demand for another booth in the future,” he said. “We have about four or five booths in Oak Ridge, and I would expect that we will see the same kind of demand here at UT.”
RFB&D Production Director Cecelia Morris said the technology’s move to Knoxville reflects significant progress.
“We started with the studio out in Oak Ridge, but we have always wanted to get the Knoxville community more involved,” she said. “This new addition will give us the opportunity to get more involved and reach students on the UT campus.”
Morris, who is in charge of producing materials and managing the equipment, said the entire process weighs heavily on volunteer participation.
“We have volunteers who record the text books in an audio booth…and they are digitally recorded so that students can listen to them on a special player and be able to navigate through the book and listen to the texts that they need to listen to.”
The portable players, which are similar to most CD players, allow students to stop, rewind and fast-forward through their texts.
“Students can even take the players to their class and use headphones to follow along with whatever textbook the class is using at that moment,” Morris said.
The Office of Disability Services strongly encourages all students, faculty and staff to volunteer their time to aid in the recording process.
For more information or to volunteer, contact the disability office at 482-3496 or e-mail Tennessee@rfbd.org.