This information comes from my Yahoo voiceover message board – from Art Hadley who is an audio producer for a reading service.
– There are over a hundred reading services for blind and print-impaired people, all across the U.S. In general, they provide their services (and a closed-circuit FM SCA radio) for free, and read newspapers, magazines and best-selling books.
– Reading is done by volunteers. Volunteers are auditioned and trained, standards are high. (Everyone wants to read their favorite books, but what actually needs to be read is dozens of hours of newspapers every day.)
– Newspaper reading is great VO exercise. Sentences are not written to be read aloud, and your ability to make them sound sensible will be challenged. Reading obituaries for fifteen minutes will never go on your demo tape, but you’ll be better for it. Good training for a VO pro, and also something you’re probably already good at, so your skills would be valued. Forget reading thirty seconds; you’ll probably read for an hour. You’ll need to pace yourself. Very good training for narration and long-form reading, which requires techniques that differ from intense thirty second spots.
– Most services want you to commit to at least an hour or two per week. Reading is a mix of live and pre-recorded.
– Your local service would probably LOVE to have you sign up as a volunteer, as long as you don’t go in and act like you know more about it than they do. After you have established that you DO know more about it than they do, they would probably love it if you’d do a volunteer workshop and train other readers. http://reader.ku.edu/workshops.shtml
– Many services are members of IAAIS, and on the IAAIS web site there’s a directory where you can find Audio Information services around the country. http://iaais.org