Family legacy inspires mass repair effort

Richard Morris III
Richard Morris III repairs
talking-book machines...

Richard Morris Jr.
and so did his father,
Richard Morris Jr.

Seventy-nine-year-old Richard S. Morris III carries on his father’s legacy of volunteer work and entrepreneurial spirit, one that has served the talking-book patrons of South Carolina for nearly half a century. The volunteer group his father started has repaired more than 27,300 cassette players, with volunteers donating more than 56,600 hours of work.

In 1961, even before a talking-book library was established in South Carolina, Richard S. Morris Jr. organized a group of telephone company retirees in Columbia to join the national Telephone Pioneers volunteer organization (now called TelecomPioneers) to repair talking-book players for South Carolina patrons receiving service from North Carolina. By 1991 Morris’s group had repaired 12,000 cassette machines and 5,100 record players, contributing more than 34,000 hours of service. In a newspaper interview the elder Morris gave in 1991, it was evident that he found his volunteer work satisfying: “Every time we repair a talking-book machine, we’re helping a blind person enjoy a book that he or she may not otherwise be able to enjoy, and that’s a great feeling.”

Richard Morris III remembers his father: “He became the real technical expert of the group. Everyone would go to him with the problems they couldn’t solve. My dad won several awards, including one from the governor. He was also named Pioneer of the Year for his participation with and formation of this group.”

Morris Jr. led the volunteer unit until a few months before his death in 1994, contributing a total of 33 years of service to South Carolina patrons. His colleagues continued the repair work after Morris died, and in 2008 they asked his son to join the group.

Morris III said, “After my father died the other members asked me if I wanted to come down and join the group—and I said very much so. It’s more than just a group of repairmen. We’re really like brothers. “We feel like we are really contributing to the needs of the blind community. We think it is an honor to be able to meet their needs in this way. I have a friend in Knoxville who lost his sight and uses this service. He says talking books are a good tool for helping the visually impaired.”

Morris III and eight other volunteers work every Tuesday morning in the library. They no longer repair record players, but repair and recondition the library’s inventory of cassette machines.

“With the end of production for these cassette players, the role volunteers play in the talking-book program is more important than ever! The S.C. State Library applauds their overwhelming dedication and commitment to library services for visually impaired and handicapped library patrons,” remarked Naomi Bradey, volunteer coordinator.

New Mexico library recognizes service contributions

The fourth annual volunteer recognition party for the New Mexico Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NMLBPH) took place on May 12, 2008, at the Stewart L. Udall Center for Museum Resources, which is part of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) in Santa Fe.

The 2008 honored volunteer was Norman Snider, a retired telephone worker who has been repairing C1 talking-book machines from his home in Roswell, New Mexico, since 1995. Snider has repaired an average of twelve units per month with help from his wife Cathy, who cleans the parts after Norm disassembles the unit. Their help has been greatly appreciated by the New Mexico equipment control manager, Steven Barnett.

The party’s featured speaker was John Pen La Farge,  author of Turn Left at the Sleeping Dog, which he narrated for the local recording program. La Farge spoke on the art and discipline of collecting and organizing oral histories and cited acclaimed author and broadcaster Studs Terkel as an inspiration.

The event was funded by the Friends of the NMLBPH and included light refreshments along with gifts of imprinted water bottles and museum passes from the DCA.

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National Braille Association (NBA)
NBA Fall 2009 Professional Development Conference
Hilton Eugene Hotel and Conference Center, Eugene, Oregon
Thursday, October 29–Saturday, October 31, 2009

For more information about this meeting, contact the National Braille Association,
95 Allen Creek Road, Building 1, Suite 202, Rochester, NY 14618; (585) 427-8260;;

California Transcribers and Educators of the Blind and Visually Impaired (CTEBVI) [formerly California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH)]

CTEBVI 51st Annual Conference, Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel, Los Angeles, California; Friday, April 23–Sunday, April 25, 2010

For more information about the 2010 meeting, contact CTEBVI, 741 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029-3594; (323) 666-2211 (messages only);

Visual Aid Volunteers of Florida (VAVF)

VAVF 2010 Conference of Volunteers
Meeting details to be announced

For more information about this meeting, contact Patricia Gray, VAVF President,
(904) 247-6583,,

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John Wilkinson, author of Update’s student-instructor dialog, retires

John Wilkinson
John Wilkinson receives the 1994
Fred L. Sinclair Award.

Literary braille advisor John Wilkinson, who was the author of Update’s student-instructor dialog, retired on January 3, 2008, after 33 years of service at NLS. “John has been an invaluable member of the NLS staff,” said NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke. “With his strong work ethic and personable nature, he has trained thousands of people to become braille transcribers and proofreaders over the past three decades.”

Wilkinson trained nearly 5,000 transcribers and proofreaders, according to NLS consumer relations officer Judith Dixon’s calculations. “And the transcribers and proofreaders love him,” said Dixon.

The only child of an auto mechanic from rural Virginia and a coal miner’s daughter from West Virginia, Wilkinson was the first blind student in the state of Maryland to complete a mainstream public school education, graduating from High Point High School in Prince George’s County.

“I developed a great respect and affection for braille transcribers in the course of my education because of the indispensable help they provided,” said Wilkinson. He received a bachelor of music education, summa cum laude, from American University in Washington, D.C., in 1973.

Wilkinson added, “A friend of mine knew Charles Galosi, who was the NLS director at that time, and she told him about me. I met with him and Maxine Dorf (then supervisor of training specialists in the Volunteer Services Section). They told me that they would call me when a position opened and I could apply.”

On April 1, 1975—“April Fool’s Day,” Wilkinson joked—he was hired as a braille instructor in the Volunteer Training Section. He eventually became a senior braille specialist in the Braille Codes Section, which later became the Braille Development Section.

Wilkinson was promoted to literary braille advisor in 1988. In this role his primary responsibility was to grade trial manuscripts from students in braille transcription programs. He also answered complex questions from transcribers, teachers, and proofreaders via phone or e-mail; evaluated lessons and certified proofreaders; and wrote the student-instructor dialog column for Update. In addition to his training responsiblities, Wilkinson transcribed White House and congressional documents into braille and translated braille documents into print.

In 1994 Wilkinson received the Fred L. Sinclair Award from the California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH) for “outstanding contributions to the education of the visually impaired,” an honor given only occasionally by CTEVH to individuals who merit special recognition. He was cited as “the nation’s number-one braille emergency helper at the other end of an 800 number; the man whose judgment we rely on when an author’s sometimes-confusing intent needs to be made clear in braille; and the man who is always conscientiously and patiently available to help us provide our students with the highest possible quality of braille.” Wilkinson also served on the Braille Authority of North America’s Literary Braille Technical Committee from 1988 to 2007.

During his retirement, Wilkinson hopes “to travel some and pursue my music.” A huge sports fan, he looks forward to following his favorite Washington teams: the Redskins, Nationals, Wizards, and Capitals.

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Volunteers master new skills

Between November 2007 and October 2008, 238 people received certificates in braille transcribing: 205 in literary braille transcribing, 2 in literary braille proofreading, 23 in mathematics braille transcribing, 1 in mathematics braille proofreading, and 7 in music braille transcribing.

Literary Braille Transcribers

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Florida | Georgia | Idaho | Illinois | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | Ohio | Oklahoma | Pennsylvania | South Carolina | South Dakota | Texas | Virginia | Washington | Wisconsin


Elizabeth McKee Huggins, Prattville
Timothy Wayne Jones, Talladega
Cathy McCleskey, Talladega
Gina Palmer Ward, Prattville
Mary Genevieve Banaszak, Anchorage
Catherine Michelle Lamborn, Anchorage
Donna Lucille Soderstrom, Ketchikan
Jacquelyn Ann VanDaff, Anchorage
Kristi Bagby Wilson, Anchorage
Diane Lee Everhart, Tucson
Dale Edward Faulkner, Phoenix
Floyd Edward Ferguson, Phoenix
Thomas Albert Fuchs, Phoenix
Tony A. Jackson, Phoenix
David E. Lipman, Phoenix
Jason S. Nelson, Phoenix
Keith George Parker, Phoenix
Christina N. Robertson, Prescott
Arnold A. Santana, Phoenix
Jack L. Sneed, Phoenix
Owen A. Thompson, Phoenix
Tung T. Tuong, Phoenix
Douglas L. Winger, Phoenix
Lee Henry Bell, Wrightsville
Jose L. Martinez, Wrightsville
Carolyn Ann Brannan, Brentwood
Tamara Lynn Bryan, San Bernardino
Jillian Collins, San Diego
Donna J. Dietrich, Garden Grove
Frankie L. Dosty, Folsom
James Kevin Doyle, Ventura
Chris D. Goodwin, Folsom
David R. Higginbotham, Hanford
Mariko Ishihara, Ventura
Kimberly Margaret Kalnoki, Carmichael
Eleanor Mary Kieffer, Simi Valley
Cristin M. Lockwood, Vacaville
Jha-cheriton Elijah
Anthony Manyfield, Folsom
Carla Miller, Capitola
Delvon Morgan, Folsom
Devin T. Otte, Ventura
José Perez, Ventura
Jesse James Reasner, Folsom
Eloy G. Rosas, Folsom
Valentin Trujillo, Folsom
Derek M. Whipple, Folsom
Marlene Esther Wright, Castro Valley
Ann Johnson, Colorado Springs
Jamie Donovan, Cheshire
Daniel P. Judkins, Windsor
Dana Lane, Windsor
Efrain Mojica, Cheshire
Edwin F. Snelgrove, Windsor
David Soler, Cheshire
Robert White, Windsor
Joan D. Black, Casselberry
Linda S. McQueen, Jacksonville
Marie J. Amerson, Hardwick
Billy Carlton Black, Hardwick
Leonard M. Glover, Hardwick
Arthur T. Majid, Hardwick
Charles Ross Mize, Hardwick
Will Morris Sanders, Hardwick
Guy Harold Toles, Hardwick
Christopher Michael Tyler, Hardwick
John K.C. Meredith, Boise
Linda L. Morris, Hampshire
Danny Darling, Bunker Hill
Matthew Robert Doyle, New Albany
David Dragon, Bunker Hill
Martha E. Hall, West Lafayette
Laurie Kristine Ide, West Lafayette
Aaron J. Lane, Boise
William Hubert Payne, Pendleton
Antwon Richmond, Bunker Hill
Michael Royce, Bunker Hill
Priscilla Marie Walker, Corydon
Brandon Brown, Anamosa Cory
Ray Florke, Anamosa
Diana Elizabeth Dyal, Lawrence
Clara Freund, Wichita
Vickey J. Hauetter, Bonner Springs
Rebecca Lea Millikan, Mission
Cindy Rhea Sharp, Olathe
Mark Burns Alexander, Louisville
Chad Daniel Bush, Crestwood
Mary Kathleen Cook, Pewee Valley
Alissa DamRon, Pewee Valley
Jeffrey Eads, Lexington
John L. Hunt, Lexington
Drew Michael Lueken, Louisville
Michael Allen Sell, Louisville
Cathy J. Senft-Graves, Louisville
Thomas A. Slover, Lexington
Jeremy S. Young, Lexington

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Julia Lord Parmelee, Concord
Andrea Isabel Juarez, Dearborn
Diane M. Kwiatkowski, Livonia
Diane Mary Olson, Ramsey
Kathleen A. Peterson, Tyler
Colleen Rezac, Mankato
Cathy Lou Stien, Gaylord
Ray Auberlin, Jefferson City
Melinda J. Cook, New Boston
Troy G. Moore, Jefferson City
Charlotte S. Brooks, Helena
Michael D. Baldwin, Hayes Center
Brandy M. Blair, Lincoln
Julie A. Claussen, York
Kent David Fleischmann, Lincoln
Terry G. Lewis, Lincoln
Karen R. Meints, Beatrice
Brenda Novak, Lincoln
James Darrell Russell, Lincoln
Niccole A. Wetherell, Lincoln
Charles O. Anderson, Las Vegas
Mark Allen Binegar, Las Vegas
Jeffrey John Deily, Las Vegas
Jeffrey Bryan Delosreyes, Las Vegas
Michael Patrick Fago, Las Vegas
John Burnside Gunton, Las Vegas
Brian Patrick Hinkell, Las Vegas
Dennis Patrick Houle, Las Vegas
Michele A. Kaspari, Las Vegas
Keith Martin, Las Vegas
David Bruce Reynolds, Las Vegas
Kenneth A. Skellham, Las Vegas
Darrell Lamont Smith, Las Vegas
Michael Joseph Trujillo, Las Vegas
Charles Edward Watts, Las Vegas
Semere Bahta Yonas, Las Vegas
New Mexico
Jeri Smith, Rio Rancho
New York
Douglas E. Beaty, Woodbourne
Dawn A. Bedard, Elizabethton
Susan M. Blatt, New Hartford
Emma Marie Camelio, Rochester
Frank Dixon, Otisville
Rochelle Roberts, Plainview
Marcellis Waltower, Otisville
North Carolina
Sandra Kay Tate, Waynesville
Michael Paul Bonner, Grafton
Robert P. Clapper, Grafton
Christopher S. Eckel, Barberton
Michael J. Gunner, Grafton
Colleen Jo Karp, Oberlin
Ralph E. Kent, Grafton
Hope E. Rader, Delta
Fidel Sanchez, Grafton
Ronald B. Smith, Grafton
Mark S. Verdi, Grafton
Raymond Eugene Frederickson, Sayre
Gregory John Knight, Sayre
Carolyn Black, Philadelphia
Joan Alice Brown, Pittsburgh
Tivoni Aaron Devor, Philadelphia
Ruth Ann Joseph, Carnegie
Brooke Carrie Kling, Scheicksville
Wanda Kenyette Ligon, Philadelphia
Rachel Packard, Cambridge Springs
Lori A. Sauerzopf, Scheicksville
Tina M. Young, Cambridge Springs
South Carolina
Tracy L.B. Bundy, West Columbia
Chase Randyn Burnett, Greenwood
Melissa Faye Burriss, Greenwood
Laura J. Green, Summerville
Denise Edgar Hagan, Greenwood
Barbara Mattson, Spartanburg
Kathryn Potts Ouzts, Mount Pleasant

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South Dakota
Richard Fredrick Godschalk, Yankton
Joseph Lamont King, Yankton
Heather Baker, Gatesville
Andrew James Bontrager, Cedar Creek
Paula Marie Byrne, Granbury
Linda McKenty Carr, Gatesville
Jiin Hwa (Mabel) Chang, Benbrook
Geremy Earl, Littlefield
Tracey Ann Frame, Gatesville
Kimberly Kay Hasson, Gatesville
Victor Haworth, Littlefield
Marcia Gayle Kelly, Gatesville
Ronald W. Lang, Littlefield
Susan Marie Mattson, San Antonio
Kimberly Murphy, Gatesville
Connie M. Phillips, Gatesville
Eileen Beth Pruitt, Gatesville
Bob Radford, Littlefield
Kassie Elise Russell, Mt. Enterprise
(Rae) Kathleen Stevens, Spring
Denise A. Tharp, Gatesville
Lisa Renea Warren, Gatesville
Diane Scott Ferras, Richmond
Miriam Dingley Lamb, Williamsburg
Linda K. Ross, Smithfield
Paula Gayle Watson, Richmond
Linda Sue Allard, Vancouver
Felicia D. Dixon, Vancouver
Michelle L. Gunderson, Vancouver
Russell Miller, Federal Way
Suzanne M. Phillips, Marysville
Diane Marie Weinman, Tacoma
Ryan Robert Beckler, Oshkosh
Brian Richard Huisman, Oshkosh
John P. Kralovetz, Oshkosh
Kurt David Pamperin, New London
Lenore Tesch, Oak Creek
Literary Braille Proofreaders
Wayne G. Everitt Jr., Boise, Texas
Glenn Edward MacDonald, Wilmington, Delaware
Mathematics (Nemeth) braille transcribers
Roderick L. Uy, Folsom
Joyce Ann Walling, Merced
Heriberto Cruz, Cheshire
Alfredo Marty, Cheshire
Graylon Shannon, Cheshire
Elmer Moore, Anamosa
Kimberly Jo King, Pewee Valley
Athena M. Williams, Pewee Valley
Gene Mezeske, Jackson
Helen Skovran, Minneapolis
Wolfgang Rust, Lincoln
Steven K. Findlay, Las Vegas
John Derrick Koinzan, Las Vegas
Kenneth E. White, Las Vegas
South Dakota
Madore Leonard Schenk, Sioux Falls
Christine H. Dodson, Gatesville
Conquista D. Ellison, Gatesville
Angela C. Garrett, Gatesville
Sailaja Hathaway, Gatesville
Shellee L. Kotschwar, Gainesville
Patricia Nayomi Miller, Gatesvillle
Thelma Smith, Gatesville
David Feist, Oshkosh
Mathematics (Nemeth) braille proofreader
Wiliam J. Mussler, Phoenix, Arizona
Music braille transcribers
Christina Thomsen Davidson, Crownsville, Maryland
Sandra Hutto, Gatesville, Texas
Mujahid Batin Latif, Jackson, Michigan
Gilbert H. Mende, Queen City, Texas
Kouchiann Ni, Campbell, California
Luke C. Owens, Sayre, Oklahoma
Mark A. Schnabel, Lincoln, Nebraska

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In Memoriam

Jane W. Bente
Jane W. Bente

Jane W. Bente (1927–2008), braille entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Jane Bente, who directed a Red Cross braille production center in New Jersey, died on August 24, 2008. She was 81.

Bente didn’t let other people’s perceptions stop her from achieving great things. More than 40 years ago, an instructor told Bente it was impossible to teach yourself braille—but Bente did just that and became a literary braille transcriber certified by the Library of Congress. Bente volunteered as a braille transcriber until 1976, when she became director of the braille department at the Essex chapter of the American Red Cross in East Orange, New Jersey.

From 1976 until her retirement in 2008, Bente introduced numerous innovations to the production of braille textbooks for children in grades 1–12 including new binding systems, the use of computers, and a production-tracking system. For her creative management skills, she received the 1999 National Red Cross Tiffany Award for Employee Excellence.

In 2001 the Red Cross chapter’s board of directors honored Bente by naming the braille department after her. “The Jane Bente Braille Center is the premier volunteer braille-producing service in the United States—and probably in the world,” said Rose Cipriano, chair of the center. It supplies textbooks to visually impaired students in New Jersey, across the United States, and in places as far away as Bermuda, Belgium, Guam, and Canada. The Jane Bente Braille Center produces 1.5 million braille pages a year, employing 2 full-time and 5 part-time staff, 40 bindery volunteers, and more than 120 volunteer braille transcribers.

Phil Regensdorf
Phil Regensdorf

Phil Regensdorf (1915–2008), Insight for the Blind narrator

Phil Regensdorf, a longtime talking-book narrator for the Insight for the Blind recording studio in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, died on August 19, 2008, at the age of 92. After leading successful careers in retail and education, Regensdorf retired from his position as director of adult and community education for Broward County, Florida, and dedicated 31 years to narrating talking books.

A volunteer since 1977, Regensdorf narrated more than 435 books for Insight for the Blind. He received many appreciative letters from NLS patrons across the country thanking him for his high-quality work. One from Reno, Nevada, wrote, “I am totally blind and have been listening to talking books since I was nine. . . . To me talking books are a blessing. I noticed you read many books in which the characters are young people. You make them come alive for me. Keep up the good work; it would be a lonely void in my life without your narrations.” The many books Regensdorf narrated with his sharp, clear baritone voice will remain his legacy to NLS patrons for years to come.

Oklahoma narrator receives Helping Hands award

Ed O'Connor
Narrator Ed O’Connor receives Helping Hands
award plaque from volunteer center associate
Tanya Wiley.

For the past eighteen years, Ed O’Connor has helped many Oklahomans enjoy a better quality of life through the hundreds of books he has narrated for persons unable to read books in regular print. He has recorded books for recreational reading and dozens of textbooks for college students. He has also spent many hours recording materials such as brochures, training manuals, and yearly insurance benefit guides for clients of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

On April 18, 2008, O’Connor received the 2007 Helping Hands award in the individual category from the Heartline Volunteer Center of Central Oklahoma. He was nominated for the award by Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (OLBPH) librarian Paul Adams. Library staff and visitors gathered at the recording studio where O’Connor was narrating a book. Tanya Wiley, an associate from the volunteer center, came armed with balloons and the award plaque for O’Connor. 

“When he came out of the recording booth, his shocked expression elicited howls of laughter from the impromptu assembly. Amidst the transfer of balloons, presentation of a certificate, and flashing cameras, Ed remained almost speechless—a rare occurrence for him,” said Vicky Golightly, OLBPH public information officer and volunteer coordinator.

Masthead Information:

Update is published quarterly by:
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542
Correspondence should be addressed to the Publications and Media Section (PMS).

Publication editor:
Lina Dutkey

Coordinating editor:
Freddie Peaco

Publications and Media Section
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542

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Issues in 2008

January to June