Reading Playboy to the blind

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Taping for the Blind is a Texas non-profit that does exactly what it says—turning printed material that isn't available in audio book format into custom-made tapes and CDs. They also do audio descriptions of live events, like the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and various theater performances. Volunteers read and describe publications by request, and one of the publications requested turns out to be Playboy. NPR interviewed Suzi Hanks, a radio DJ who took over Playboy duty after the guy who used to read it got married, and his wife asked him to stop.

Hanks reads the articles ... and describes the pictures. But that latter task is more than just titillatingly talking about tits.

"Basically I'm their eyes. All I'm doing is providing accessibility to what's there on the page," she says. "I don't have to try to be sexy when I'm describing the pictures. I'm just a woman reading it, and it comes out sexy whether I want it to or not."

It's more than just body parts, she says. "That would get boring. You're painting a picture. She's conveying something through her eyes, through her facial expressions."

Hanks will look for details in the photos like nautical sheets on the bed, or make observations like, "interestingly enough, in the centerfold, it looks as if the tattoos have been airbrushed out. The tattoos are gone."

Almost as interesting to me is the fact that Taping for the Blind has its own radio station that you can pick up in the greater Houston area. They don't seem to read Playboy on there, but programming is diverse—ranging from readings of People, Ebony and the Sunday funnies, to themed book readings like "Tales of Suspense with Pearl Hewitt", to a cooking show called "Cooking in the Dark." It sounds like both a great public service, and an interesting radio station in its own right. Anybody in Texas ever tune it in?

Via David Brauer

Pictured: Braille copy of Playboy belonging to Ray Charles. Photo: some rights reserved by imjoshdotcom.