WOUB Partners with Voicecorps to Provide Reading Service to Region< < Back to
Reading Service can be found on 20.7/44.7
ATHENS, OH – People in the WOUB/WOUC TV viewing area who are blind, have low vision or other conditions that prevent reading can now listen to printed news and information being read to them thanks to a new partnership between WOUB Public Media and the Voicecorps Reading Network.
Voicecorps Reading Network is a 24/7 information service which provides free access to print for people who cannot read the printed word. Voicecorps volunteers read aloud from daily newspapers, flyers and other current print without censoring or editorializing. WOUB recently started broadcasting the Voicecorps Reading Service on a virtual channel.
“Many of us take the ability to read the daily newspaper for granted,” said WOUB General Manager Mark Brewer. “We are thrilled to be able to work with Voicecorps to make sure people in our region who need this service are able to get it.”
“We realized that there were large areas of southeast Ohio that weren’t being adequately served,” said Voicecorps Executive Director Mark Jividen. “Many tell us that this service is life-changing for them, and we want to make sure all who need it have it.”
There are, by conservative estimates, nearly 280,000 people in Ohio who, because of vision loss, need a reading service. And the population in need is growing with baby boomers hitting retirement age – when vison loss occurs with greater and greater frequency. Some Voicecorps listeners are totally blind while others have low vision from macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, trauma or glaucoma. Some can no longer turn the pages of a newspaper because they have had a stroke or have Parkinson’s disease. Still others are unable to read due to dyslexia, or a military service-related injury.
“Many think that there is no longer a need for a reading service since information can be found on the internet. However, the internet doesn’t always play nicely with adaptive technology like screen reader software, and it can be hard to navigate websites for those who can’t see the screen,” said Jividen. “Cost is a factor as are connectivity issues. Rural communities seldom have as easy access to the web as urban communities.”
Even if people do have internet access available, technology can sometimes be a barrier to “reading” printed material.
“Some come to blindness later in life due to medical conditions, and these folks sometimes are not skilled when it comes to computers and technology,” said Jividen. “So, having the reading service available is a huge help.”
“WOUB is one of the only stations to offer the service on a TV channel,” said WOUB Chief Technology Officer Steve Skidmore. “Voicecorps delivers a digital audio signal via the internet to us, and we add that audio into our TV encoder system to display over a graphic for legal identification.”
“A virtual TV channel like this eliminates need for the user to have special equipment to get the service,” said Voicecorps Marketing and Development Director Dave Noble. “It’s easier for them to feel a TV remote and punch in three digits. What WOUB has done by putting this on their TV channel is amazing. It’s making it possible for people to stay informed on what is going on outside their doors.”
The service reads content of state and national interest including: The Columbus Dispatch, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Ohio Magazine and many others. It plans to start adding local content of interest to WOUB/WOUC’s geographical location in the future.
State funds were made available to help launch the service in the WOUB/WOUC area as well as WBGU in northwest Ohio. Voicecorps hopes that the local communities which receive the help will add to its support. Registration for the service is free for individuals eligible by way of disability. Those who register will receive a program guide. Registration can be made either by phone at 614-274-7650 or online at www.voicecorps.org.
WOUB’s Voicecorps virtual channel can be found over the air on 20.7/44.7
Founded nearly 45 years ago by three men who were blind, Voicecorps has provided daily newspaper readings and more than 200 periodical readings weekly. All readings are performed by highly trained volunteers from all walks of life. Voicecorps seeks people who cannot use print due to medical conditions including vision loss, paraplegia, stroke, head trauma, and veterans with service-related disabilities which prevent them from using print. Voicecorps has never charged a fee to eligible people, existing solely on gifts from the community it serves. Learn more online at www.voicecorps.org or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/voicecorps) and Twitter @voicecorpsfan.