Blind World Magazine

Helping people with print-related disabilities get the news.

January 12, 2006. - IL, USA.

Approximately a half of million people in the Chicago area have a print-related disability. It ranges from reading printed pages to turning pages. But this should never stop them from finding out what is in newspapers because there is a radio program that takes care of that.

Chicagoland Radio Information Service has been bringing news from newspaper and magazine since 1977. Last year they made news as they moved from Randolph in the Pedway to the Chicago Lighthouse for people who are blind and visually impaired.

Art Kovarik and Kathy Snyder volunteer for Cris Radio. It is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers to produce their radio show.

By using a special radio receiver it picks up Cris Radio broadcasts through a sub-carrier. Listeners have access to the same written news that sighted individuals have.

Every listener has their favorite. Marcia Trawinski likes the comics.

"Because no one gives us comics on the news line or if one gets it through the computer, comics do not come through," said Marcia.

Maureen Comiskey Perfers listening to people reading sports news.

"I have JAWS and a computer at home and I can go on newspaper website to read by using JAWS as my screen reader but its not the same thing because reading something that is written from text is different from listening to somebody giving you a little personal touch as these volunteer readers do," said Maureen.

The next step for Cris Radio is to expand 24/7. Jim Kesteloot, president and CEO of the Chicago Lighthouse, wants people who are blind to be involved.

"In fact, one day we have a new broadcast assistant starting who's legally blind and we're planning on having a number of programs actually produced by people who are blind'," said Jim.

Volunteers are always needed. Bonnie Barnes, manager of Cris Radio says most of the volunteers are dedicated.

"Obviously, we are looking for people who can read out loud which is why we hold auditions," said Bonnie.

"We are here to help each other and I think people who are unable to read for some reason or another I can be their eyes or their hands turning the pages or whatever has to be done, so it's very rewarding experience," said Art.

Karen Meyer, Feature Reporter on Disability Issues, ABC 7 News

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