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Hear The Bill Interview with Diane Havens


By Stephanie Ciccarelli

October 15, 2009

Comments (3)

American flag with a microphoneYou may have heard that some members of the voice over community were mentioned in the New York Times last month for their voluntary commitment to read out the US bill for Health Care Reform.

The bill itself takes over 1 day to listen to and a number of pages were assigned to eager volunteers.

What you may not have known though is that this gargantuan effort is being updated to reflect changes in the bill since it came up for review.

Want to learn more?

Read this interview with one of Hear The Bill's chief coordinators, Diane Havens.

Voices.com Interview with Diane Havens of HearTheBill.org

VOX: Welcome Diane, and thank you for joining me here on VOX Daily. Congratulations on Hear The Bill's recent press in the New York Times! I've heard that as the bill is being updated, talent are rerecording or recording the newest changes. Can you tell me more about that?

DIANE HAVENS: There are two health care reform bills currently on the site. The one from the House of Representatives has not changed since its initial recording in September, however the Senate bill has gone through a number of changes and is not yet finished.

VOX: Which means, of course, more work for you guys! How do you know when the bill has been updated? Do you have a contact within the senate who is alerting you to the changes as they happen?

DH: To keep up with the updates, we check the government websites (in this case, the Finance Committee of the Senate) to track changes, which are posted as they are written up. We are not working with anyone from the government -- we just use the posted text and amendments as they come.

VOX: This must require a great deal of commitment!

DH: Yes, Kat Keesling and I and most all of our volunteers have made a commitment that is over and above what we could ever have expected. Each person was given a smaller portion of the bill to record.

VOX: When a change occurs, the person whose part of the bill has been changed rerecords their portion. Just the other day I saw a tweet from David Houston relating so much about a change made to part of the bill he had recorded. How many people are volunteering their voices for this project and how complex is this project?

DH: There are over 80 voice talent volunteering! Kat and I take turns, according to our schedules, on organizing the new material, and then contacting the volunteers who then in turn must commit to a fast turnaround of recording/editing of their files (under 48 hours) -- and then Kat, who also has the monumental task of web master, uploads the new audio to the site.

We contact our subscribers notifying them of the change. I also write up a new press release whenever a major change occurs, and continue to get media, press and blog coverage.

Volunteer Roger Baker has taken on a leadership role as well, by doing the bulk of the quality checking both for text accuracy and audio quality before Kat uploads their final to the site -- THAT is a huge job!!

VOX: Are you doing anything special to recognize the people volunteering?

DH: We attempt, in some small way, to thank our volunteers for their extraordinary efforts by listing their contact information on the site, and we have recently started a feature where I "interview" volunteers and post their response both as audio and text on a page called "Getting to Know US". A similar page is in the works (minus the audio) "Getting to Know YOU" giving some feedback or comments from our users (subscribers).

VOX: How long will you continue to update the bill?

DH: We are committed to following through with this until health care reform is passed, at the very least, and then we may look into forming a non-profit organization formally and legally -- and apply for grants to keep us afloat on a permanent basis. We would then be able to give more time and attention to the site which we think is a great public service, especially for the visually impaired, but seems also to be enjoyed by all sorts of people -- the kind that love audio books!

For more information about Hear The Bill, visit:


To hear the bill, click here:


Best wishes,


©iStockphoto.com/Brandon Jennings

Related Topics: Diane Havens, HearTheBill.org, Kat Keesling, New York, New York Times


    The phrases "giving back" and "public service" come to mind here immediately. Wow, who said everyone's out for themselves? Sorry, I've been watching C-SPAN too much! To all those involved with this project, don't stop and I WILL join you someday for this project or another like it, I promise - once you know me a bit better.

    Posted by:

      Greetings, Stephanie! Thanks so much for profiling the HearTheBill.org web site and volunteer effort. It has been a thrill and privilege to be a voice talent on this important and exciting project for both versions of the bill. I am continuously amazed and impressed by Diane and Kat as they have organized and updated the material, coordinated with dozens of volunteers, and launched a high-profile media campaign. The idea for HearTheBill.org was incredibly brilliant and inspired, and these 2 ladies are tremendously deserving of every word of praise and publicity to come their way!

      I'm so happy to see Diane's comment that they'd like to get a grant to sustain the project through future bills. I'm proud of my work on this project and consider it a vital service. I would love to see HearTheBill.org evolve into a permanent organization and am ready to work with the founders bring that idea to fruition!

      Karen Commins
      Senate Bill section 19
      House Bill section 35

      Posted by:

        Kudos to Diane and the entire volunteer gang!

        Great idea - you should all be very proud ;-)

        Posted by:

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