Visually Impaired Readers Connect During Virtual Book Club

We all know reading books are an inexpensive form of entertainment, an educational tool and a time traveling machine. Grabbing a book and diving into its pages is a pleasurable experience regardless of the day or time. September 6 is National Read a Book Day and a special occasion to read that hot new best seller or book you keep putting aside.

Virtual audiobook club starts. 

Reading a good book is not just enjoyable but helps reduce stress and enhance mental concentration. Having someone to share it with is even more fun. When the pandemic struck last year, Outlook Enrichment developed a virtual audiobook club. Everyone was sheltering in place and practicing social distancing. Yet, people who were blind and visually impaired still needed community and socialization. This monthly club provides an opportunity to share a good read and connect with others. It also helps members to read consistently, read books out of their comfort zone and see different perspectives.

“I value this club because it brings folks together in the midst of the virus and specifically hardships of blind folks.  We pick audiobooks from many types like mysteries, thrillers, and suspense while having a lot of fun discussing them,” said Kathy Beers, audiobook club member. “Audiobooks open a whole new world to the reader. You read at your own pace and on your own time. They are inexpensive to buy and they belong to you after purchase.  Many audiobooks and podcasts are free.  Many different devices can be used to read audiobooks.  This book club is also a great support for visually impaired folks. I truly enjoy this club.” 

Although the club focuses on audiobooks, people with vision loss can read in various formats. Braille, large print, digital text to speech and even accessible apps are available to read a variety of books. Members can choose the format based on their comfortability. Computer savvy members can help those who aren’t with downloading books. Or they can also call the technology helpline at 531.365.5334 for assistance. 

“I enjoy listening to works where the narrator knows the perfect accent or multiple voices are reading the story. It brings various characters to life. When they are monotone, especially in the non-fiction genre, I’d rather just read the books in braille,” said Rachna Keshwani, another audiobook club member. “I look forward to each meeting discussing all our viewpoints about every novel, which sometimes changes my perspective. Without this group, I wouldn’t even consider psychological thrillers.” 

Connect with more people.

Once members start attending the virtual audiobook club, they will interact and connect with more people. This boosts camaraderie and decreases isolation. Transportation and location are not an obstacle so many people can join in the discussion.

“I think reading books lets you travel to other places even when physical limitations would otherwise prevent you from doing so. Every time I read a book, I learned something about life, love and whatever else the writer throws in,” Heather Pfiefer, audiobook club member explains. “I love the opportunity to get together with other intelligent minds and discuss our take on what we read; each perspective is unique. Such a blessing to have meetings that don’t require Uber.” 

Connect with different people.

Traditional physical book clubs have the same faithful members that come regularly. But the virtual audiobook club opens the door for new people to attend. New people bring in different opinions and new perspectives which makes for lively discussions.

“Before book club started, I had never listened to a book and had not physically read one since high school. I love how I can listen to audiobooks while cleaning or doing other things around the house,” said Megan Mackie, club member. “The best part about the book club meetings is that often the books inspire the members to share personal stories and memories. We get to share opinions about the books, but more importantly, get to share our lives and experiences with each other.” 

The audiobook club is a great resource for visually impaired readers. It not only offers a place to discuss interesting books but to share perspectives, build connections and make friends. To join in on the discussion, sign up at Outlook Enrichment’s Art and Culture program. Also, for those avid visually impaired readers who want to enhance their technology skills, reach out to the adaptive technology department for help.

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