Readers relay news articles to blind and low-vision listeners
Keeping up with the latest news and events in the River Region can sometimes be a challenge for blind or low-vision residents.
Fortunately, a partnership between the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and Troy University’s WTSU public radio ensures that listeners can stay informed of what is happening in the Montgomery area.
The Radio Readers, a group of volunteers who meet four days a week to read local and national news articles over the airwaves, gather on the third floor of the Rosa Parks Museum to provide this service.
Director Lois J. Brown, Frank Winkler, Dorothy Moore, and David Harwood are regular readers of excerpts from The Montgomery Advertiser and The Wall Street Journal, along with occasional books provided by New South. The stories are broadcast Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. through a special frequency that can be received with two-channel radio receivers distributed by ADRS.
Brown, who retired from Tuskegee University in 2000, said she first became involved in the program when she saw a newspaper advertisement. She said she was searching for a way to volunteer her time and decided to give it a try. She has been a fixture ever since.
Along with the regular readers, Brown said they have 14 volunteers who are willing to step in whenever they are needed.
“We have a full crew,” she said.
Three or four readers rotate Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Students from Troy University read on Mondays.
All of the readers participate on a volunteer basis; however, Brown said they do provide snacks.
“We just help each other out that way, but nobody gets paid,” she said.
Each reader steps in for 15-minute increments when four volunteers are available or 20 minutes when the number is three. The readers introduce their followers when a transition is made to create an easy transition for listeners.
The system is monitored and turned on remotely by staff members on the Troy University campus. Because the show is broadcast on an alternative site band, regular listeners do not receive the program.
Anyone interested in tuning in can secure the radios through their physicians. They are given a certificate which can be used to pick up a radio at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Montgomery.
Eligibility requirements mirror those of the Library of Congress Talking Book Program.
Brown said they value their listeners and are always searching for feedback on what they would like to hear. She said she has been a part of the program for so long that she considers the listeners to be her family.
“It is a part of me now that I have been doing this so long” she said.
The readers meet before the show airs to scan the papers for the top local and state news, sports, weather, and feature articles in Montgomery, Autauga, and Elmore counties.
Those who would like to learn more about the program or become listeners can contact an ADRS blind services coordinator.