Meet Deborah Kipp: The Volunteer Who Brings Stories to Life

Meet Deborah Kipp: The Volunteer Who Brings Stories to Life

Have you ever wondered about the voices behind your favourite audiobooks?

CNIB Beyond Print presents the “Volunteer Spotlight,” where we introduce you to Deborah Kipp, a dedicated long-term volunteer who’s transformed her passion for storytelling into an art form.

Ready to be inspired? Read on!

Discovering CNIB Beyond Print

An image of young Deborah Kipp onstage. She is dressed in rags, has disheveled hair, and sits at the bottom of a staircase.

Deborah’s connection with CNIB Beyond Print dates back to 1978 when she was an actress at the Tarragon Theatre.

When asked how she discovered our organization, here’s what she had to say: “I started in 1978. I’m an actress and I had been working at the Tarragon Theatre, and the artistic director was volunteering here. I thought it sounded terrific, so I came and did an audition.”

Deborah was immediately drawn to the idea of sharing the magic of books with individuals who have print disabilities.

Theatrical Roots were her Springboard for Success

An image of young Deborah Kipp on set in the 1970s. She wears a Victorian era costume and dons a frilly bonnet. She appears in a lavishly decorated bedroom.

Deborah’s theatrical background has played a pivotal role in her role as a narrator.

She explains how her acting experience helps her bring stories to life.

Deborah Kipp: “Being an actress helps enormously because you are used to getting inside a story,” she explained. “While reading a book out loud, it’s crucial not to reveal too much, allowing listeners to engage their imaginations”.

She vividly remembers a moment during her narration of Camus’ “The Plague” when the narrative deeply moved her. Her expressive delivery of the story brought intense emotions to the surface.

Deborah Kipp: “I used to tell this story: I was reading Camus’ The Plague, and I had come to a part that was extremely moving. And I thought, ‘I think my voice is too caught up in it,’ and I looked at my [technician] and there were tears flowing down her face. And I thought, ‘Well, maybe not‘.”

A Lifelong Love for Reading

Deborah’s lifelong passion for books began in her early years.

When asked if she enjoys reading at home, Deborah fondly recalls her time at the library. She says: “I grew up in Winnipeg. When I was old enough to wander around [the library], I remember the librarian said, ‘Would you like to come into the adult section?’ Exploring those shelves of books was just magical for me.”

One of the most poignant moments in her life was reading to her mother during her battle with brain cancer.

Despite her mother’s diminishing lucidity, Deborah read aloud to her every day, offering comfort and connection.

Deborah Kipp elaborates: “When my mum was at the end of her life, she had brain cancer. She was a very vibrant woman, but she wasn’t very clear anymore. But I could tell she wanted me to read.”

It’s a powerful reminder of the universal love people have for books.

The Studio Experience

An image of Deborah Kipp and a fellow actor on set. They link arms and sit on a staircase.

Deborah compares the atmosphere in CNIB Beyond Print’s recording studio to the camaraderie found in theater green rooms and dressing rooms.

Deborah Kipp: “If you’ve ever been in a green room, or dressing room in the theater, you’ll find that [actors are] often very shy, but … have a wonderful sense of humour. And the staff … we laugh a lot, which you do in a dressing room too!”

Deborah’s Advice to Aspiring Volunteer Narrators

For those considering volunteering with CNIB Beyond Print, Deborah offers invaluable advice.

She emphasizes the importance of loving books, not overthinking, and letting the words guide you.

She elaborates: “Love books. Let the book take over and don’t be nervous. Don’t try to do too much. That’s where it can go wrong. If you try and be too dramatic. Just let it flow naturally. And as I said, the words will do it. The word itself will let you know.”

Volunteering with CNIB Beyond Print

Deborah Kipp’s journey as a volunteer narrator at CNIB Beyond Print demonstrates the profound impact that one person’s voice can have on others.

If her story has inspired you to make a difference, we invite you to explore how you can join our community of dedicated volunteers.

Visit our Volunteer and Careers page and become a part of the team committed to changing lives one story at a time!

A special shoutout goes to CNIB Beyond Print Intern, Jada Mendoza for interviewing Deborah Kipp.