Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic is holding its annual Record-a-Thon, ending today, Friday, April 23. The Santa Barbara office of the nonprofit RFB&D lays claim to the most successful Record-a-Thons of all the national offices’. As always, community leaders, celebrities, corporations, various groups, and other community members have turned out in force for this year’s event—the 15th annual—which began Monday, April 19.

Paul Orfalea, Santa Barbara philanthropist and founder of Kinko’s, and recent author of Copy This, showed up at Record-a-Thon on Monday to speak of the importance of RFB&D. He spoke of his own childhood growing up with dyslexia, and his perpetual struggle with education. He stressed that children with dyslexia do not learn in the “wrong” manner, just differently.

“Don’t worry about your weaknesses, worry about your strengths,” said Orfalea.

Two other RFB&D members, Kristen Reed and Tabitha Freytag, also presented testimonials on Monday. Kristen Reed, age 37, has been using RFB&D since she was in sixth grade and is currently its director of programs and service. Her dyslexia caused her to hate reading. Although faced with learning challenges, Kristen fought her way up the education latter with the help of RFB&D, and continuing on to receive an MA in human and childhood development. Reed emphasized the value of enabling dyslexic students to connect, as RFB&D does, the visual with the auditory.

Freytag, by contrast, never graduated from high school. One of seven children, she had dyslexia and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and throughout her childhood was very uncomfortable in school. Although she was always regarded as lazy or unable to learn “correctly,” Freytag was also classified as being highly intelligent and she had a fervor for education. In her adult life she eventually decided to confront and claim her education. “Education is a right”, said Freytag.

After raising her two sons, Freytag began attending community college night classes to earn a GED (general education diploma, equivalent of a high school diploma. Long story short, she recently took and passed the GRE (graduate record exam, generally required for admission to grad schools) and is now awaiting responses from such schools as UC Berkeley.

According to Freytag, one of the most beneficial aspects of RFB&D is that the volunteers will make recordings of your current textbooks, even if they were not previously on file. She noted how helpful it is that you can speed up or slow down the recordings, so you can focus on certain readings more than others.

Members of RFB&D can also download books onto MP3 players, making this a green organization.

“I have the capability, I just read the information differently”, said Freytag.

Santa Barbara RFB&D’s Area Director Tim Schwartz, whose twin brother is half blind, said he appreciates the organization “for what it does academically, physically, and emotionally.” He later added, “If you excel academically, you will have self confidence in all other walks of life.”

RFB&D began as an organization provided to war veterans of WWII who lost their eyesight in battle. The organization has expanded to serve 297,000 students nationwide, and it currently has more than 59,123 titles in its national library. Not only does RFB&D serve to those who are visually or learning impaired, but also to those who are physically impaired, such a quadriplegics.

Located at 5638 Hollister Avenue, Suite 210, in Goleta, RFB&D always welcomes awaits volunteers willing to offer 30 minutes or more of their time to those visually, physically, or learning impaired by reading books out loud for audio recordings.


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