Lori Kesinger (right) celebrating her Lifetime Achievement Award with IAAIS member Trish Humes Speight.

Kansas Audio-Reader, an audio information service at the University of Kansas, won six awards this summer at an international conference located in Phoenix. Lori Kesinger, Audio-Reader’s outreach coordinator and listener liaison, also received a lifetime achievement award.

Audio-Reader provides access to print information for individuals who have difficulty with print materials. This can include those with vision loss, brain injuries or diseases such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis. Audio-Reader provides its services free of charge and utilizes volunteers to help make the information accessible.

Audio-Reader was recognized for the Program Award, Narrative Reading Award, Thematic Production Award and the Non-Reading Entertainment Award. Two individuals within Audio-Reader also took home awards: Carl Graves received the Public Affairs Award for Volunteer Excellence, and Kesinger won the C. Stanley Potter Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The lifetime achievement award is the highest honor that the International Association of Audio Information Services gives, according to a University of Kansas press release.

“Working outside of the spotlight, she ensures that new services are introduced to the main body of the membership,” said David Noble, former IAAIS President who nominated Kesinger, in the press release. “Her deep industry knowledge of where to turn coupled with her complete lack of selfish ambition make her the quintessential ambassador to new members and new staffers at current members. Lori’s efforts have always gone above and beyond.”

Kesinger described receiving the award as “surreal” and was very excited, though she admitted the timing was confusing.

“Most of the time when people get a lifetime achievement award, it’s right around the time when they announce their retirement,” Kesinger said. “So, it was kind of strange to get it because I’m like ‘I’m not leaving, and I’m not done working.’ I didn’t expect it, but I wasn’t completely shocked because I have been involved nationally for a long time.” 

Kesinger has been with Kansas Audio-Reader since 1990. She has worked with several different audio information services throughout her career. She also did an internship with a program in Virginia, then moved to Kansas. Nationally, Kesinger has helped with administrative work for IAAIS’ board of directors since 1995.

“Audio-Reader is the second oldest audio information service in the country. So, as far as our industry goes, the organization has a pretty good reputation,” Kesinger said. “A lot of other agencies have used Audio-Reader as a model for starting their own audio information service.” 

Within Kansas Audio-Reader, Kesinger has worked in a variety of different roles. She was the program manager for 25 years and then moved laterally into the position of outreach coordinator, where she works in areas such as marketing and public relations. She makes presentations to clubs and other organizations to increase awareness of Audio-Reader’s services and to try and get support from other businesses.

Kesinger is happy that no one is really treating her differently after her award and said that working at Audio-Reader is rewarding in and of itself.

“It’s a fulfilling place to work because every day we’re making a difference in someone’s life,” Kesinger said. “[Audio-Reader is] a very simple way to keep people engaged, active, involved in their community, informed of what’s happening in the world.”