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Digital Hymnal

for the blind
to be distributed by Christian Record Services

By Michelle Miracle

Ray McAllister, a blind doctoral student, has developed a hymnal for the visually impaired and it is available through Christian Record's online order form or by calling CRS at (402) 488-0981.

The hymnal will be available in floppy format and is compatible with HumanWare software. If you are visually impaired or know someone who is and are interested in ordering this hymnal, free of charge, follow the link listed above.

Ray developed the new method of distribution for the hymnal out of a need he personally felt. Here is the story behind the hymnal in Ray's words:

One of the most meaningful acts of worship during church is singing the hymns, that is, for those who can read the hymnal. Many people, such as the blind, are unable to do this. Some institutions offer worship music in braille, but reading braille books is slow and they are cumbersome. This, then, is the story of how God has enabled me, though totally blind, to praise Him along with sighted worshipers.

For many years I prayed and thought about how the blind could conveniently sing during worship services. I was searching for a method that would make the task almost as easy and effortless as it is for sighted worshipers. Earlier this year I finally had the breakthrough I was looking for.

Late one Friday night, I was thinking about the dilemma and it dawned on me, "I have a laptop that will read any printed material that is loaded or typed into it." If I could have the hymns typed into my computer I could take that system to church, and with a good headset I could hear both the words and the accompaniment.

The next step was to do a simple experiment. I pulled out a CD, and while listening to it, transcribed the lyrics. Replaying the song, I was able to sing along by reading line by line on my laptop. At church I had a friend help me change my version of the song to match the hymnal's version. When we began to sing, I found that my experiment worked. I was able to follow along with every line of every verse.

I then purchased a hymnal with only the lyrics and scanned the pages into my computer. After a month of work the entire hymnal was organized in simple blocks of twenty-five hymns. I could reach the first line of any hymn in under ten seconds, which meant that I could find hymns about as quickly as anyone else could.

Now the project is finished and I am enjoying participating in song along with my sighted friends.

The software Ray McAllister described in this story is being distributed by Christian Record Services, free of charge to the visually impaired. To order, call CRS at (402) 488-0981.

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