Statewide radio service offers newspaper readings to visually im - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Statewide radio service offers newspaper readings to visually impaired

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

More than 3,000 visually impaired Iowans are able to keep up with current events because of the Iowa Radio Reading Information Service for the Blind and Printed Handicapped, Inc. (IRIS).

That includes Debra Musch of Waterloo, who lost her sight at 29 years old. IRIS has helped connect her to her community since 2004.

"I've had it on since 8 o'clock this morning," she said.

Musch lost her sight because of congenital glaucoma. She was diagnosed with the eye disease when she was 6 months old.

"When I had my sight, I never thought about what would I do someday if I didn't have sight or whatever, and then when it did happen it was like, well, I had to kind of change how I do things, and missing the paper was the biggest thing," said Musch.

That's why she appreciates the free radio and programs offered by IRIS.

"I look forward to you know, catching up on certain events and keeping in tune with what's going on around me because if I didn't I would be totally lost, and it keeps me up on conversations with the people I'm around, too," said Musch.

IRIS exists to bring information to Iowans who cannot read because of blindness, visual or physical impairment or a learning disability.

IRIS volunteers regularly read newspapers, comics, shopping advertisements and obituaries that are broadcast on radios provided at no cost to people who need them.

Dan Shere is one of about 300 IRIS volunteers.

"I do this because I love it," he said. "I feel like I am contributing helping people who need to hear the paper."

2012 was the last year of federal funding for IRIS.

IRIS is looking for volunteers to help read newspapers. The organization is also accepting donations to continue providing equipment and services to listeners for free.

Interested people can visit the IRIS web site, call (515) 243-6833 or 877-404-4747 or email iris89@netins.net.

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