Guides and Troubleshooting

We rely on our team of volunteers to make print content accessible for blind and low vision individuals. All volunteers undergo a rigorous onboarding process – submitting an application, then an audition, and finally – becoming a host of an audio program. Once you pass your audition, the Volunteer Coordinator will be in contact with you about your schedule and will assign you a show. Your login information and program details will be provided to you at that time.

Use the following navigation tabs to guide you through your first episode, to troubleshoot issues, or just to review our expectations.

Basic volunteer expectations

  • Abide by our audio requirements (See recording tab for details)
  • Keep up-to-date contact information with AINC staff.
  • Submit your hours with every volunteer session.
  • Meet your deadlines (Mountain Time Zone)
  • Name your audio file as instructed by Volunteer Coordinator.
  • Notify AINC staff of any absences in a timely manner so AINC can find a temporary substitute.
  • NEVER find a substitute for your own show – let AINC handle that.
  • Check volunteer announcements regularly on the volunteer portal.
  • Function independently.
  • Upload the appropriate file into the appropriate folder in your portal account.
  • NEVER share your volunteer portal username or password, and never log into someone else’s account.
  • Never delete or change a folder in the portal.
  • Be open to feedback – we just want you to be the best you can be for our listeners. We will contact you if we find any chances for improvement in your work.

Sample of the audio quality we expect:

What can cause dismissal

AINC is committed to provide quality and timely information in audio format for print impaired individuals. AINC volunteers are expected to uphold our standards, and not doing so will result in dismissal. AINC staff will notify you of any mistakes or violations and give you opportunities to correct and/or retrain, however, you may be dismissed if you:

  • Don’t read content accurately (Ex: Summarizing, skipping sentences, adding personal commentary, etc)
  • Have 4 or more unnotified absences.
  • Frequently submit files late without notifying staff.
  • Don’t meet AINC audio quality standards.
  • Give out your AINC username and/or password to anyone.
  • Recruit someone to sub your show without the approval of AINC staff.
  • Use hate speech, or any language meant to insult or marginalize.
  • Don’t abide by other AINC requirements and protocols.
  • Adding music or other audio to your tracks that isn’t copyright free and royalty free.

Tech support

If you run into issues while volunteering remotely, we encourage you to first seek answers through this page and your onboarding documentation. If you still need help, AINC staff are available M-F from 9am-5pm to respond to a help ticket, which you can fill out at any time.

Notice: Limited support on weekends

We cannot always respond to issues on Saturdays and Sundays, and occasionally have unexpected tech issues on weekends that may not be resolved until the following Monday. On weekends, we encourage volunteers to check announcements and login to your account before you begin recording – there you will see if there is any downtime that was scheduled or a notice of known issues. If you run into issues unexpectedly, fill out a help ticket and AINC staff will address it the following Monday. If the issues prevents you from recording or submitting your audio, fill out an absence form.

Equipment assistance

AINC can provide a high quality loaned microphone to help remote volunteer overcome financial barriers.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Available only to those that cannot afford to purchase their own microphone
  • Must be actively serving AINC for  6 months+ and in good standing with the organization.
  • Microphones must be returned once you no longer require it for your AINC volunteer duties.

To request a loaned microphone, reach out to alex@aincolorado.org.

Note: Active AINC volunteers also have the free option of using our professional recording studios in Boulder, CO, to record your AINC content.

More information

Please review the details in the other tabs on this dashboard for more specific audio requirements, FAQs, and more. If you have questions or concerns, please email alex@aincolorado.org or ainc@aincolorado.org.

Start here

Introduction video

Things you will need (If recording from home)

  • Decent <5 year old computer with latest software updates, adequate RAM and memory.
  • Quality USB or studio microphone.
  • Decent internet with a minimal upload speed of 10 mbps (Test internet by clicking here)
  • A quiet space to record.
  • Recording software.

Download Recording Software

1.Go to Audacity’s website to download the latest version.

2. It should begin installing right away. If it doesn’t, click the version you want to install. The download will save to your computer.

3. Run the installer, follow the prompts for setup.

Setting up your space

Quick tips for home recording

  • Record in a closet! (Or somewhere that has minimal hard surfaces to reduce echo).
  • Warm up your voice before recording.
  • Clear your workspace to minimize accidental bumping and rubbing of objects during recording. Ensure you do not touch the mic nor the mic stand while recording.
  • Listen closely – Avoid recording in an area with seemingly small noises such as a refrigerator or fan.
  • Listen to your audio files before uploading to ensure they sound good!

File Management

Understanding basic file management is one of the biggest areas that can make or break your success as an AINC volunteer or a voiceover professional in general.

There are a variety of ways to manage your files, so find something that is logical to you that makes it easiest for your to track and find your audio files when you export. We’d recommend saving to a designated folder on your computer with a clear name (Ex: My AINC Files) and archiving your files in a separate folder.

This will make more sense to you as you begin doing voiceover work and working with many files over long periods of time.

Recording Audio

Our listeners deserve quality, timely and accurate audio information, so our expectations of volunteers are high. Failure to abide by the following requirements may result in mandatory retraining or dismissal from your volunteer position.

Audio Requirements

Whether recording from your home or from our studios, we expect you to meet all of our audio requirements. Recording in studio removes many challenges to meet these expectations, but is not required.

  • 192 kbps Mp3, Constant Bit Rate (CBR) and 44.1kHz (or 44100 Hz.)
  • Mono
  • Measure around -12db average output
  • Consistent in sound and formatting
  • Audio must be clean and high quality – no popping, background sound, buzzing, shuffling etc. (ALWAYS do a test recording before beginning)
  • Proper running time (As specified to you upon assignment)
  • Turn in on time (As specified to you upon assignment)
  • Use your program code as the filename (As specified to you upon assignment)

Sample of the audio quality we expect:

Booking a studio

Our studios are open during our business hours, and require a reservation. All studios are located at 1700 55th Street, Suite A, Boulder, CO 80301. Please review the videos below for an orientation on studio booking and use.

How to use Audacity

FAQs

Common audio issue tips

My audio sounds metallic, or hollow.

Artifacts are undesirable sounds around words, such as random, humming noises and metallic sounding breaths. Artifacts are usually created from excessive or incorrect noise reduction. To correct, ensure you have noise reduction turned off on your microphone and/or computer settings. In some cases, you may need higher quality recording equipment.

My audio is quiet - less than -12db

Quiet audio could be caused by many things.

  • You are too far away from your mic. Simply move closer, but be careful not to get too close and clip or breathe into the mic.
  • Your mic volume is too low. You can increase the volume in Audacity settings, or your device settings.
  • Your export volume is low. You can increase the volume in Audacity settings.

My audio has loud clipping or popping sounds.

Clipping is an undesirable, loud, distorted sound, and should always be avoided. To avoid clipping, you can try speaking further from the mic or decreasing your mic volume. Adjust your mic volume and place your mic so it is about 6″-10″ and slightly off camber (Slightly aimed to the right or left of the mic) and do a test recording to see if it’s resolved.

There is room ambience/reverb in my recording and my voice sounds thin.

Room ambience and reverb is often caused by your microphone being too far away from your mic or your mic being to “hot” (loud). This will aso cause your voice to sound thin, “tinny”, and cause sharp “ess” sounds. Lower your mic volume to 50% and place your mic so it is about 6″-10″ and slightly off camber (Slightly aimed to the right or left of the mic) and do a test recording to see if it’s resolved.

My audio sounds distorted.

Distortion is an audio garble, and should be avoided. It usually occurs when you are too close to the mic or the mix volume is too high.

My audio has a strange "phasing" or "sweeping" sound.

Phasing is a phenomenon that creates an undesirable in-and-out effect. This is most commonly heard when forcing a stereo audio file into mono. You should be recording and exporting in mono, instead of recording stereo and exporting mono.

There is background hum or echo in my audio.

Background hum, noises, or echo are often caused by the space you are recording in. Ensure your recording space is free from things that cause ambient noise, such as a fan or a road outside. If you are experiencing echo, try to cover any hard spaces in the room with blankets and close the curtains on the windows.

Recording FAQs

What microphone should I use?

You MUST use an external mic. You don’t need a fancy microphone unless you are setting up a permanent studio. A gaming mic or simple USB microphone will be adequate. Here are some microphones we have worked with or have been suggested. You can find these at your local Best Buy or on Amazon.

DO NOT USE a built-in laptop mic!

How do I export with a 192 bit rate?

It is critical you export at a bitrate of 192kbps or higher. Not doing so can result in your episode not airing at all.

This can be done in the export settings of Audacity when you save your file.

  1. Record as usual
  2. Click “File”
  3. Click “Export”
  4. Click “Export as mp3”
  5. Near the bottom of the pop-up window, where it says “quality”, set to 192 kbps. (It will remember these settings for your future recordings.)
    • Doesn’t give you the 192 option? Click “Constant” and then 192 will appear as a drop down option.
  6. Save and submit to portal as usual.

Can I record from a mobile device?

We can’t support mobile. For audio quality issues, we prefer volunteers to use a Mac or PC.

Can I record on a Mac?

Yes! Please use Audacity.

What recording software can I use?

We only support Audacity (PC/MAC). Audacity is free professional-level software, exceptional editing controls, great sound quality.  Click here to see a video to begin using Audacity. We have instructional videos available in the volunteer portal, along with helpful tips.

If you already are a professional voice-over artist, have your own professional studio, equipment, and software you prefer, you may use your own software as long as you meet our audio requirements, but we will not be able to provide technical support if you run into issues. 

Remember, recording is just 1 step of the process. It is critical you submit your completed file to us via the portal!

How do I record and read from the same screen?

There are a few ways to do this:

  • Use 2 screens, or record from your computer while reading from your mobile device or tablet.
  • Use split screen.
  • Minimize Audacity after hitting record (Because you won’t get a visual of your levels while you record, use caution to ensure you are in fact recording and at the proper levels)

Audacity is freezing and glitching regularly.

This could be due to a variety of culprits. Here are some common causes:

  • Restart your computer just before your next recording session.
  • Close unnecessary tabs and programs.
  • Update Audacity to the latest version (You can see what version you have in Audacity by clicking “help” and then “about Audacity”)
  • Check if your operating system has any updates available.

Can I add my own music?

Yes, but you must follow our strict guidelines.

  • 100% copyright free, royalty free, no accreditation required music and you send AINC a copy of the copyright code for the track before using it.
  • Edit it in professionally with proper levels (It’s gotta sound good!).
  • Has to be the same track for every episode.

If you don’t feel you can meet any of the above expectations, simply don’t add music. Don’t worry, you won’t be marked down or anything! Adding music can be a good bonus, but is most definitely not required by any means.

Performance Requirements

  • Read the intro script as written at the beginning of your file.
  • Read in the order the publication intended (Main page articles first, followed by other articles, editorials, obituaries, etc. as time permits.)
  • Read content as written, not adding commentary or summarizing.
  • Speak clearly, enunciate, and proper pronunciation.
  • Credit the authors of articles.
  • Don’t read the advertisements

Intro scripts

You are required to read our intro scripts for each episode you submit at the beginning of the audio file. If you are unsure which script is appropriate for your program, contact AINC staff.

Performance FAQs

What do I do if I make a mistake reading?

Mistakes happen, and they are nothing to fret over. We don’t expect any volunteer to edit their audio. In fact, if you are not experienced editing, we ask that you don’t. An unexperienced editor will often make the problem worse. We generally recommend to simply verbally correct your mistake. If you stumble over a word, simply continue recording and repeat the word correctly. You can say “Let me try that again” or “correction”, or something else to indicate.

How long should I spend on an episode?

We don’t expect perfection (See: What do I do if I make a mistake reading FAQ), and we don’t want our volunteers to burn out trying to make their audio as perfect as can be. Typically, we expect a 26 minute audio file will take roughly 45 minutes to create, and a 56 minute audio file will take about 1.5 hours.

Where do I find my content to read?

Upon program assignment, you were given the information to access content for your program. Please read any intros/closing that are required for your program at the beginning and end of your file.

Note:Because we read online content from 3RD PARTY COMPANIES – we have no control over their ads, pop-ups, or other problems with their website.

How should I read links?

If the link is relatively short and easy to say, go ahead and read it out as ” www.linkedsite.com/relevant page” — If it is a long or complex link, just say the name of the website.

Should I describe images?

While not required, you can briefly describe images as you see fit if you feel it is important to the story. If you want to learn some audio description best practices, here’s some links.

Must I read the full intro and outro script for each program?

Yes, please read the script as written. The intro at the beginning, and the outro at the end. We will always have the most up-to-date on available on the Volunteer Portal.

How do I handle typos or bad grammar in publications?

For obvious errors, correct them on the fly if you can. If not, you can verbally put them in quotes by saying “quote” “end quote” before and after the section.  Let AINC staff know if it’s just too ridiculous to handle.

What do I do with hard-to-pronounce words?

If you can, pause your recording to look up pronunciation. YouTube or www.howtopronounce.com are great sources. Refer to our Colorado Pronunciation Guide for region specific pronunciations.

If you are still unsure or don’t have time, that is okay! The next best  thing to do is just say it confidently and say it the same way throughout your reading.

If we get complaints from listeners, we will let you know.

Submitting your mp3 file

These are instructions for active volunteers submitting your regular program assignment. If you are submitting an audition, follow the instructions in the email.

  1. Log into to the Volunteer Portal Dashboard.
  2.  Upload your file by clicking the ” + New” at the top left.
    • Important: If you do more than 1 program, you must navigate to the program’s directory on the left side and upload the appropriate files in the appropriate spot.
  3. Click “New File”
  4. Navigate to where you saved your file on your device and open. It my take a few minutes to upload.
  5. Confirm it is there by looking in that directory. You can double click the file to listen to make sure it’s correct.
  6. Don’t forget to log your hours!

FAQ

It's taking forever to upload a file, or is timing out!

Our Volunteer Portal is optimized to make uploading your audio file as fast as possible, but depending on your home environment (Such as your internet speed, Wi-Fi, or device capabilities) the upload speed can sometimes be inconveniently slow or time-out before the upload completes. If it is a known issue on our end, you will find a notice about it on the volunteer portal dashboard. If there is no notice, check your internet speed. You should have an upload speed of 10mbps minimum (Test internet here). You should expect uploads to take anywhere between 1 and 20 minutes. If uploading takes longer than that, here are some tips to increasing your upload speed:

  • Unplug our internet router, wait 1 minute, and plug in again. Wait a few minutes and see if your internet is back up.
  • Close any extraneous tabs on your browser, or extraneous programs that are running on your computer.
  • Disconnect other devices from your internet. Your internet speed may be getting throttled by internet related activities on other devices such as mobile phones, other computers, and online gaming on a console.
  • Upload during “off hours” when less people in your household are using the internet.
  • If you use Wi-Fi, use a wired connection using an Ethernet cable to connect your upload device directly to your internet.
  • Clear your cache and cookies in your browser.
  • Contact your service provider to check for widespread outages.
  • Consider changing your broadband provider. Different providers perform better in certain areas of the country, and it could be worth switching.

Can I stack, or submit multiple episodes, at once?

If, for example, you are going out of town next week so you wish to submit 2 weeks worth of your program, you must name your files accordingly. The one you wish to play next will be your normal naming convention – that is, with no numbers.

The one you wish to play soonest will be went.mp3

The one you wish to play next week you will need to name went2.mp3

The one you wish to play the week after next week you will need to name went3.mp3.. etc.

I submitted my file late. What do I do?

If you submit or anticipate you will submit your file after the “first air” day and time, it is critical you contact alex@aincolorado.org. Not doing so will likely result in your episode not airing at all.

How early can I submit files?

It depends. If you do a weekly, you can turn it in up to 6 days early. However, if you do a daily, you cannot turn it in more than a day early because it will overwrite your fellow volunteers file that is meant to air on that day. If you are unsure if you are reading a weekly or daily, ask alex@aincolorado.org.

That being said, we encourage volunteers to submit audio several hours before the due day/time of your program, and absolutely not later than 30 minutes before airtime.

What is "ZZ Other Audio"?

Every volunteer has access to a shared folder called “ZZ Other Audio” – you will find it on the left side of your account when you log in to the volunteer portal. This folder is only to be used for things outside of your regular program assignment, such as special one-off assignments, test files, etc. Only use that folder if you have been instructed to do so by AINC staff (not common).

My program is airing last week's episode!

All of AINC’s publishing platforms  (podcast, broadcast, stream, and telephone access) run on very specific weekly schedules. Each program has a “first air” day and then will repeat the same episode for a 7 day cycle. When you submit your program does not affect when it is published as long as it is before the “first air” day and time. Contact aflynn@aincolorado.org to inquire about what this time is for your program. If you are still concerned that it is publishing the wrong episode, please contact aflynn@aincolorado.org

When I log into the Reader Portal, it says "Invalid Username"

Please double check the email sent from AINC to ensure you are entering your correct username. If you do this and it still doesn’t work, contact aflynn@aincolorado.org.

When I log into the Reader Portal, it says "Invalid password"

Please double check the email sent from AINC to ensure you are entering your correct password. If you do this and it still doesn’t work, contact aflynn@aincolorado.org.

Episode Checklist

Use this checklist to ensure you are meeting our basic expectations. Note that this list is not comprehensive and more detailed requirements are outlined in other areas of this guide.

✔Read the intro and outro scripts.

✔ Bit rate 192 kbps or higher.

✔ Audio in .mp3 format.

✔ Audio is the correct duration.

✔ Submit your volunteer hours.

✔ Verbally credit the authors.

✔ Audio is high quality and free from disruptive noises.

✔ Name your file correctly.

✔ Audio is uploaded into the correct folder on your account.

✔ Submit your file by the deadline. Aim for earlier incase you run into any issues.

What happens after you submit your episode?

NOTE: Video data is from 2020 and may be outdated.

Step 1: Turn in episode

You upload your completed mp3 episode into the Volunteer Portal.

Step 2: Queued for airing

Our automated system grabs it 30 minutes before airtime and puts it in the queue.

Step 3: Aired and published

Your episode is aired on broadcast, and converted into a podcast.

Step 4: Distribution

Your episode is published on Apple podcasts, AINC website, and more.

Step 5: People listen

Episode is repeated on broadcast and available as podcast until the next episode.

Being an AINC readers comes with perks! We offer a few different free learning opportunities to help you improve your voice-over skills for your reading for AINC and your own personal endeavors. We believe in supporting you to be the best you can be, even outside of your work with us.

  • Volunteer Education Series includes regular sessions with experts over a variety of topics related to your volunteer work. See past presentations and sign up for future ones.
  • Need 1×1 help? Recording and Voiceover help with an audio  pro will be available every Wednesday from 9-11 am (MT) over Teams. Make an appointment with Jonathan. 
  • Want to improve your voice-over skills? AINC is offering hands-on, in-depth classes throughout the year. Spots fill up fast, so sign up today
  • Studio orientation: Complete our short studio training to learn how to use professional audio equipment. Once you complete this orientation, you can book our studios for free for your AINC readings at your leisure!

Reach out to lauren@aincolorado.org for more details.

Need help troubleshooting?

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