Kate Aitken

Kate Aitken

Excerpts from the radio script of Kate Aitkin, from September, 1954.

…Have you people ever wondered – I have many times – what it would be like to be completely sightless.  We see those white caned heroes moving along the street so briskly and surely.  We see them behind the counters of snack bars.  They never make a mistake.  We see them working in the workshops and I’ve yet to see a frown on a blind person.

Now here is a unique service carried on for the blind on Beverley Street in Toronto.  It’s a library for the blind and this unique voluntary service is being carried on every day and seven days in the week.  They have an Institute Library which is under the charge of Mr. Beath, and comprises hundreds of recordings for the use of the blind.  This particular service caters especially for the blind student who is already studying, well let’s say, under more difficult conditions than his brothers and sisters.

…There are two reading rooms, each with a Soundscriber machine installed, and in those rooms recordings are made, by readers, of technical works, law books, mechanical handbooks, historical surveys, and all the standard volumes used by the student in his own particular studies.

…The people who read these books onto the records are ordinary citizens who have a voice and a personality and the time to do the recordings.  One particular case which we think is wonderful is of two nurses from the Western Hospital who are between them recording an enormously difficult technical medical history for the use of a student studying this difficult subject by ear and touch.  These two nurses come over to the reading rooms in their off hours, and believe me, they ha e to know their subject to record the highlight specialized language of this work.

The Institute sends out these recordings to students all over Canada, and they find it easier than printing in Braille since so often just the preface to a work may be altered and then can be re-recorded on a few records, and the rest of the work left intact, rather than rebinding and reprinting a whole volume in Braille.

It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes love.  It takes lots of pre-study on what is going to be read.  But by the letters from some of the students who have received recordings, there is nothing more worthwhile.