State House Presentation

Yesterday I spoke at the State House talking about the importance of the Talking Book Library. I usually have no trouble speaking in front of a group but since I only had a few minutes I actually wrote my presentation so I would not ramble. Well, for me that is a mistake. I get much more nervous when I have tried to memorize what I am going to say. I will put the presentation here on my blog in case you want to read what I meant to say.

I also want to thank the crew that worked so hard to get me into the city on a very nasty day.
State House Presentation

My name is Gayle Yarnall and I have been a fan of talking books for 47 years.

Just a quick description of who I am:

I am totally blind. I am married and the mother of three grown children and the grandmother of 4 wonderful grandchildren. My husband and I have lived in Amesbury Massachusetts for 18 years.

I spent my entire professional life in the field of adaptive technology for people who are blind and low vision. I owned a business providing technology solutions and training that employed 7 people at the time we were purchased by Perkins in 2008.

In June of last year I decided to retire. Almost immediately, I realized I was going to need to keep busy so I started a small consulting business doing marketing and outreach.

When I was much younger, I still had some vision. My family and teachers tried very hard to teach me to read print. They were somewhat successful as long as the print was the size of a newspaper headline. I was not really able to read books. I did not learn braille. I spent most of my school life in regular classrooms where there was no available assistance. In my senior year, a doctor finally told my family and me about talking books. This was while I was living in Florida. The clunky record player that was to be my best friend moved into my parents den and I read my first book. A Tale of Two Cities. I was in love. I had to begin sleeping in the den and not in the room with my sisters. I could not stop reading.

I had a high school guidance councilor tell my parents that a blind woman should get married. My folks were not big on a woman going to college so I got married that summer.
I kept reading. I read while I was nursing my children, I read while I was doing house work. I read when ever I could.

Several years later we moved to Boulder Colorado. Boulder was a lot different than Florida. I met knew people with new ideas. They were reading all kinds of books I had never heard of. The talking book library in Colorado helped me keep up with my new politically active friends. I kept reading.

In 1978 my children and I moved to Massachusetts and I signed up with the Perkins Talking Book Library. I started hanging out with my new co workers who were engineers and had great educations. I needed to keep up. Thanks to the talking book library, I kept reading.

I started working closely with educators to provide the technology that students would need to get the most out of their education and their future. Wow, this crowd was hard to keep up with but I kept reading.

I can’t even imagine how I would have survived this far without reading.

In 1996, I lost the last of my vision. By this time I had discovered travel and I was hooked. When I lost my vision I was concerned that I would not get as much out of travel. I had just read the first of the Outlander series and was kind of hooked on Scotland. I told my husband I wanted to plan a trip and prepare for it as much as I could. I thought if I had as much information as possible I might still be able to see the castles and mountains. Even though I never saw them clearly I could combine my little vision and big imagination and enjoy what we visited.

Well, I kept reading.
By the time we took the trip I had probably read 10 books about Scotland not including fiction. I was fully armed with knowledge and ready to go. Honestly, that was the best trip we had ever taken. Now it is my job to bulk up on history, politics, and where to find the best food.

Now I am retired, or maybe not quite. The one promise I made myself is that I will take one extra hour every day to read. This does not include the time on the tread mill or time before sleep. Usually it is in the late afternoon with a cup of tea.

Some people say we are what we eat, I say we are what we read. The Talking Book Library helps me be anything I want. A book is a friend, a teacher, a companion and often a challenge.
Thank you Kim and your staff for helping open so many doors in my life.

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