“Are any of the Ensign articles recorded?” Ensign, Dec. 1983, 30
Tom Rose, manager of Child and Special Curriculum, Church Curriculum Department. To meet the needs of the visually impaired members of the Church, the Ensign magazine is recorded on flexible 8 rpm records. More than 2,400 people currently subscribe to the monthly recordings.
To qualify to receive the recorded Ensign (called the Ensign Talking Book), a person must be visually impaired and obtain an 8 rpm record player from their local library for the blind. These record players are usually lent out without charge and can be kept for as long as needed.
The Ensign Talking Book is a recording of the Ensign just as it is in printed form. Sometimes, when room is available, music by the Tabernacle Choir and the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus is added to the records.
Recording the Ensign for the blind was first done in 1974 by Jesse Anderson, who worked for the Presiding Bishopric’s office. The recording was done at a commercial station; duplications were made on cassette tape by the Utah State Library for the Blind. In the beginning only about thirty copies were circulated.
In July 1976 the first issue of the Ensign Talking Book was produced on 8 rpm flexible records. Since then, each issue of the Ensign has been recorded in the Church Office Building and then reproduced by a company in Florida.
The Ensign Talking Book has received many letters of thanks from subscribers. For instance, one sister wrote:
“I want to express my thanks and gratitude to you and the Church for sending us the Ensign with its great spiritual reading matter and special, beautiful music by the Tabernacle Choir. I haven’t words to tell you of the joy this gives to my heart and soul. It comes like a drink of cool water to a thirsty body.”
One of the most appreciated aspects of the Ensign Talking Book is that each general conference is produced in its entirety with the voices of the General Authorities.
Another wrote: “As I listen to the last of another issue of the Ensign Talking Book, I reflect on the years it has enlightened my mind, inspired me, uplifted my thoughts, and filled my Sabbath days with the words, voices, and music of prophets, authorities, and others chosen prayerfully to be of benefit to us.
“It has certainly helped to shape my testimony and helped me to be as full of joy as I am today. I am very grateful to our Heavenly Father for such a blessing.”
How can a visually impaired person subscribe to the Ensign Talking Book? The first step is to contact the local library for the blind and arrange to borrow an 8 rpm record player. The next step is to obtain a subscription from Special Curriculum, 24th Floor, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150. Or telephone (801) 531–2475. The suggested contribution is nine dollars per year, the same as the regular subscription price for the Ensign, but any contribution, larger or smaller, is appropriate. Those who are unable to pay will receive the Ensign Talking Book free of charge upon request. We hope that the recorded Ensign is received by every visually impaired person who would like to receive it.