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Sunday, December 9, 2012


Tape Aids for the Blind recently hosted a luncheon for their volunteers in which the organisation paid tribute to the many people who gave up their time to read or edit books on tape.

Among those honoured was artSMart editor, Caroline Smart for “43 years outstanding dedicating transforming the silent page to the spoken word.” She has read over 70 books, mainly novels and those requiring a versatile acting ability.

Honoured alongside Smart were playwright Patrick Coyne, for being the longest-serving reader and Tim Dodson for his major input in editing the recordings and correcting pronunciation.

Smart and Coyne will have recording studios named after them while the editing suite will be named after Dodson.

The history of Tape Aids for the Blind began in 1958 when Jannie Venter, a young South African Railways clerk, visited a sick friend in hospital. Able to do little else but lie motionless in his ward bed, the sick friend stirred in Venter an idea that would become the seed of Tape Aids for the Blind. From this sudden flash of inspiration – to read onto tape a book for his immobile friend - the idea was conceived to make recordings together with a group of tape recorder enthusiasts and to play them to patients confined to hospital beds for long periods.

Within days Jannie called on Professor Ken McIntyre, a blind lecturer later to become the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Head of the Department of Political History at the University of Natal, to talk about the possibilities of using tape recorders to provide ‘reading’ material for the blind and visually handicapped, or for those who, because of other disabilities or injuries, could not read the printed word. Thus Tape Aids was born.

Tape Aids always welcomes new volunteers. Full details can be found at