The 15th annual Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic Record-a-Thon started out with a bang Monday, as philanthropist/Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea spoke to a group of volunteers about the importance of the work of the organization.

He said he doesn’t like being referred to as dyslexic and prefers the term “learning differences,” adding, “I support Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic because I love to learn. I just learn differently.”

RFB&D member Tabitha Freytag has been using recorded books from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic throughout her studies at SBCC.

“I was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder and dyslexia. I find that I can learn through listening to my textbooks,” she told the volunteers. “I’m getting two AA degrees from City College and I’ve been accepted into four UC schools. I plan to continue using RFB&D to obtain my bachelor’s degree.”

She added that she’s grateful to the volunteers of RFB&D who record her textbooks so she can learn and succeed in school.

Theater director Rod Lathim read from the Remarkable Farkle McBride on Monday because he directed it for the Santa Barbara Symphony’s world premiere performance.

“I love reading for Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic,” he said. “I grew up with friends who were blind and dyslexic, and I know what a critically important service this is. I’m happy to help in whatever way I can, and I encourage people to come in and read. It is fun, it’s easy, and it’s gratifying knowing I am opening up a world of literature to people who can’t pick up a book and read it the way I read a book.”

Jan Timbrook, author of Chumash Ethnobotany and curator of ethnography at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, came in to read her book and said, “I have a Chumash friend who has very limited visual acuity. It happens that she’s a basket weaver, and she may have been one of the people who requested that this book be recorded. It pleases me to know that it will be accessible to her and to people who can’t read because of one reason or another. My husband, Steve, volunteers for RFB&D reading science textbooks, and he has found it to be very rewarding. He learns a lot while he’s reading.”

Jane Hahn of Vetronix, a major ongoing sponsor of the Record-a-Thon, said, “I miss reading and volunteering here. I used to come in every Wednesday night, and I found it very enjoyable.”

Others joining in the Record-a-Thon on Monday included Brownies from Brownie Troop 50611; Katerina Zacharia, editor of Hellenisms: Culture, Identity and Ethnicity from Antiquity to Modernity; and members of the Daughters of Penelope.

The Record-a-Thon will continue from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. To volunteer to read or for more information, call 805.681.0531 or e-mail tkeramaris

In central California, RFB&D helps 1,600 students and is available through 51 schools and school districts.

— Kathy Wertheim is interim director of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.