Iowa Radio Reading Service delivers for blind, print handicapped - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa Radio Reading Service delivers for blind, print handicapped

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL)-- Life can be challenging if you can't read or can't see.  It's a struggle that's realized by at least 69,000 Iowans.  To get news and information, many of them rely on the Iowa Radio Reading Service, which is now celebrating its 10th year of service in the Cedar Valley. 

There are a handful of people in the Cedar Falls area that share a common bond.  They take time each week to read the local newspaper on the radio to an audience of people who can't read or who are blind.  Aside from the news, the volunteers are able to provide community information that folks receiving the service couldn't get anyplace else.

"We do service oriented articles that people don't think about in the newspaper:  grocery ads, obituaries.  In many, many cases, the only way our listeners have of knowing that someone has passed away is through the fact that we read the obituaries live.  Also, certain community news, announcements, construction alerts, evacuations.  All of this sort of thing is not going to be on a national radio program," said Maryfrances Evans, IRIS executive director.

Right now, a radio box is used to transmit a special frequency into the homes of Iowa Radio or "IRIS" listeners.  But the signal isn't very strong, and there are many place in Iowa where it doesn't come in at all.  But soon IRIS will be able to reach more people.

"It's really exciting that we're partnering with Iowa Public Television to provide this service on a digital signal.  Digital, as you know, is available anywhere the Iowa Public television signal is available, which is pretty much everywhere.  We have thousands of potential listeners in places we've never been able to get with our radios before that now, with a digital TV receiver, will be able to get our signal," said Evans.

But to make the service available to all print handicapped and visually impaired Iowans, there will be a continued need for volunteers to read the paper.  And donations will help IRIS buy more radios and TV transmitter boxes.  Together, that can help bring more news and information into focus for IRIS listeners.

To donate money or volunteer your time with IRIS, you can contact its state headquarters in Des Moines.  That phone number is 515-243-6833.  You can also visit the IRIS website.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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