Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you have a question that is not covered here, please ask here or send an email to

What is the purpose of Access News?

Society for the Blind provides a reading service for individuals who are blind or low vision, as well as for those who have dyslexia or other difficulties reading conventional print materials.

What to record?
  1. Store flyers

    These can be found on your personal page (sent to you in the onboarding email). These are the most important (and time-sensitive) content for our subscribers, so please always check these first.

  2. Magazine and newspaper articles

    If your personal page lists no assignments, please send an email to or click here to send a private message on this forum.

What equipment is needed?

If you don’t already have a preferred setup, then we recommend using a smartphone to record.

  • iPhones, iPads, and Macs have an official, pre-installed audio recorder by Apple called Voice Memos. Here are the instructions.

  • Android users can choose from any number of recording apps, and devices by Google come pre-installed with Recorder, but it can be installed from the Play store onto other Android devices as well.

  • Linux and Windows users are recommended to use Audacity, a free and open source software.

How to record?

Nothing can go wrong if you try to follow the advice below:

  • Find a quiet place
  • Use a headset
  • Read in a steady pace that is not too fast
  • Enunciate the words as best as you can

These are very general tips, and we’ll give you feedback on how to improve.

What if I make a mistake?

Please don’t get hung up about it. Simply repeat the word / sentence and continue reading:)

(If you really feel embarrassed about it, just let us know approximately where the mistake is in your recording, and we’ll try to remove it.)

What should be the format of a recording?

If you are recording a store flyer that you reserved on your personal page, then the specific format will be listed in the forum post linked to that specific flyer.

As for recording newspaper and magazine articles in general, please follow the format below:

  1. (Optional) Your name

  2. (Required) Name of publication

  3. (Required)
    Edition (for monthly/quarterly/etc. periodicals)
    publication date (and time, if applicable)

  4. (Required) Date of recording

  5. (Required) Title and author

  6. (Required:blush:) Content of the article.

How to name the recorded files?

Please include all identifying information for that piece of material that you are currently reading; if you create multiple audio files, please add start each with the list below. This may seem redundant, but it helps listeners to keep track of where they are, especially if they have to interrupt their listening, and need to come back to it later.

How to SUBMIT recordings?

Store flyers (listed as assignments on your personal page) have an associated post each on this forum with specific submission instructions.

If you recorded newspaper or magazine articles, please either send your recordings as attachments to or upload them to our public upload folder.

How to describe images?

Some images are only decorations, fillers, etc., and you can safely ignore these.

Otherwise, please describe images with a few words that you deem pertinent to the content. No need for elaborate descriptions, and we found that keeping it simple by using one or two sentences is the best.

When it comes to store flyers, you can skip image descriptions altogether, unless it adds information that cannot be conveyed otherwise. For example, some specials bundle multiple products together where the captions are overly generic; in these cases, please list the individual products in the picture. For store flyers, you can find more specific instructions in each request post.

How to pronounce this word / name / etc.?

The best course of action is simply spelling out the word, and continue reading. Also, for better listener experience, it is recommended to scan through an article or flyer first, if time permits.

Should I read offensive / inappropriate / etc. content?

Yes, and please refrain from censoring or editorializing as well. Access News is only a different representation (i.e., audio) of print articles to make them accessible, therefore the information content must remain the same.

Publishers have editors for a reason, and our subscribers know that they can contact the papers with their complaints.

Volunteer time

Why do I need to submit my volunteer hours?

We are required to report all volunteer time to our grantor, the California State Library, therefore please email us how much time you spent volunteering after each recording session (i.e., 30 minutes, 1.5 hours, etc.).

We won’t try to estimate volunteer time – we only record what you report.

What should I include in my volunteer time?

if you are spending time related to our service, please include that time in your report. (No need to break down activities.)

For example:

  • research
  • deciding what articles to read
  • article practice
  • setting up/finding the right recording environment
  • switching articles
  • etc.

I need proof of community service hours.

Please send us an email to and attach the filled-out form of the organization for us to sign. If there is no official form or you need a document with our official letterhead and contact information, please state so in your email.


What does the logo represent?

It is a stylized dandelion sowing its seeds, representing the service’s mission to disseminate information to a large audience, and the bright yellow dots form the Braille characters A (image) and N (image) - the initials of Access News.

Example recordings