The Audio Publishers Association coordinates a literacy initiative, Sound Learning APA, to collect and disseminate research and guidance in support of multimodal literacy. The initiative is run by volunteers with professional backgrounds in teaching, library service, and audiobook distribution and publishing. While the first years of Sound Learning efforts concentrated on collecting and organizing bibliographies and audiographies and publicizing their availability, with other supportive news, through Twitter and Facebook, a new phase is now underway.
A variety of professional narrators, featuring those with backgrounds in teaching, theater direction, and coaching, have also volunteered to become active in Sound Learning’s efforts. Librarians, teachers, and coordinators of book groups or other clubs can now contact Sound Learning to arrange for a free Skype visit with a narrator matched to their needs. (Use “Narrator Skype visit inquiry” as the subject line when emailing).
How does this advance multimodal literacy? In addition to acting skills, narrators must be able to utilize a large suite of research capabilities: How does someone from rural Kenya accent this word? Where does the emphasis belong in quoting this mathematical formula? What was the pitch of Spinoza’s speaking voice?
Additionally, narrators are able to provide both curious and compelling background information about taking direction, creating character through voice, working as independent contractors and entrepreneurs, and making midlife career changes. Because those who are volunteering with the Sound Learning initiative have provided information about their backgrounds and the kinds of Skype audiences with whom each feels most comfortable and skillful (Middle school? Elderly? Public library cohorts who are diverse in age or skills?), there is a high likelihood that the visit will match local needs and expectations.
There has been a fair amount of buzz about this new aspect of the initiative here at the New England Library Association conference (Burlington, VT) over the weekend. It’s time to pass the word to everywhere else as well. Free is good. Unique skill sets that can be disseminated is great.