IRIS volunteers: reading radio - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

IRIS volunteers: reading radio

by Sunny Layne

CEDAR RAPIDS/CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- Newspapers have existed in various forms for hundreds of years.

While many of us take them for granted, one group of volunteers understands the value of staying informed, bringing the newspaper to those who can't read it.

Volunteers with a group called IRIS are people you should know.

Shirley Wiggins' day consists of many normal tasks.

"We need to decide what we need to have for supper," Wiggins said as she searched through her freezer.

This Cedar Rapids woman just has to go about life a little differently.

Wiggins has mastered living without sight, she has been blind her whole life.

But there is one daily task where she appreciates help: reading the newspaper.

Seven days a week, 365 days a year, two readers come in to read local papers at locations across Iowa as part of IRIS: "Iowa Radio Reading Information Service for the Blind and Print Handicapped, Incorporated."

Listeners use a special donated radio to pick up the frequency.

"I know people who benefit," volunteer Donna Davis said. 

At the Communication Arts Building at the University of Northern Iowa, Davis says many listeners appreciate hearing the big stories all the way down to the smaller stories that only make their way into the newspaper.

"I think it feels much more connected to know what's going on," Davis said. "It's the grounds of conversation for everyone."

"It's another way of looking at news, besides TV and radio and it's lost to them without the opportunity to hear that," volunteer coordinator Larry Cardamon said.

All volunteers say reading takes relatively little effort to benefit so many. And they always need more volunteers.

"It's really very simple," volunteer Bea Koontz said, "to come up for an hour to read the newspaper, it doesn't require a lot of preparation."

"It really is a neat thing," Wiggins said.

Shirley Wiggins says she looks forward to feeling informed every day.
IRIS volunteers allow her to connect and read the newspaper through the radio.

"It's very important to me," she said.

To learn more about IRIS, including how to volunteer or request the service, click here.

Reporter: Sunny Layne


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