North Texas Daily

Dallasite travels the world to educate through audio books

Dallasite travels the world to educate through audio books

April 30
09:50 2013

Hasan Waheedi

Contributing Writer

The Camino de Santiago, also known as Way of St. James, is a pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago De Compostela where Saint James, an apostle of Jesus Christ, is presumed buried. Hiking the ancient Spanish trail isn’t an easy task to accomplish. Traveling an average of 15 miles each day through flat plains, river valleys and mountain passes while enduring Spain’s extreme weather conditions and unexpected traffic is often fatal. Pilgrims die on the holy trail every year.

Betsy Frazier, however, lived to tell the tale. She strode 300 miles in just three weeks to the Galicia capital, finishing Santiago’s infamous trail. She was 82-years-old.

“I had nothing better to do,” said Frazier, who is now 92. “Why wouldn’t I walk it?”

It was just another adventure for Frazier, who’s lived in places like France, India and Jamaica. It was while living in France that she volunteered at the Department for the Blind of the American Library in Paris, which was the only organization at the time to send audio recordings of books internationally. Frazier spent months in the department studio recording novels and textbooks onto tape.

“Listening to my voice is very interesting,” Frazier said. “It feels like I’m a character in each of these stories.”

After her husband’s death, Frazier moved with her son to Dallas, where her passion for narrating books would eventually lead her to Reading & Radio Resource, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the lives of those who cannot read due to a physical, learning or vision impairment.

“They asked me to write about the pleasures and problems of living overseas,” Frazier said. “This was a new challenge and worth a try.”

Reading & Radio Resource was founded in 1969 by the late Edythe and Henry Salzberger. They began creating “Talking Books” for the U.S Library of Congress. It’s been more than 40 years since the Salzbergers started the agency and volunteers are still dramatizing books by recording a narration of the story.  Through the Recorded Books Program audio books are distributed to people with reading disabilities.

“Some students are isolated from the outside world,” Frazier said. “So we give them more of a perspective by providing them stories with personal experience.”

RRR’s NTRB Radio talk show host Donna Miller, Info Talk, is visually impaired and loves listening to Frazier’s stories because she always has a smile with her voice.

“Its calmness inspires you to make a difference,” said Miller, who now volunteers at the organization by interviewing celebrities and guests at her show.

Frazier spends 400 hours a year recording audio books, which range from fiction to history. She’s written 25 original radio programs for My Personal Globe, a talk radio show aired weekly on North Texas Radio for the Blind.

At 92, Frazier’s legs aren’t as strong but her journey on the Camino is still fresh as ever.  Her willingness to share her love of reading will forever be a part of her. She is currently working as an office secretary twice a week and still finds time to slip into new adventures each night in the tales of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

“It opens doors for new experiences,” Frazier said. “So why not walk in?”

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