September 28, 2004
Director, Communications & Public Information
Free Newspaper Service for the Blind Now Available
Barbara L. Castleman
Manager of Media & Public Relations
Perkins School for the Blind
BOSTON - The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is pleased to announce that NEWSLINE® is once again being offered in Massachusetts through the Braille and Talking Book Library at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown with funding made possible in this year's FY2005 budget approved by the Legislature and Administration.
"We are pleased to be able to offer this important service that provides access to daily newspapers for blind residents of Massachusetts through their touch tone phones," said Robert C. Maier, Director of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
"In today's world, accessibility must extend beyond wheelchair ramps and braille elevator buttons. Access to information is equally important. I'm delighted that Massachusetts has joined 37 other states in providing public funding for NEWSLINE®, so that thousands of people across our state who can't read traditional print have access to daily newspapers and can keep up with current events," said Senator Therese Murray, Chairperson, Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Developed by the National Federation of the Blind, NEWSLINE® is an electronic system that allows users to listen to newspapers and magazines through synthetic voice output via any touch-tone phone. "People who are blind or visually impaired are no different from the rest of society. We want to keep up with the latest news by reading the daily newspaper on the train into work or over morning coffee," said Kim Charlson, Director of Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library. "Newsline gives its users the ability to listen to the newspaper articles that interest them and stay connected to the world."
By calling in on a local or toll-free number, users can choose any newspaper in the system and listen to that day's, the previous day's or Sunday edition. Users can also select what section or article they wish to read; and the system also allows them to change speed or voice quality, spell out words or search for a particular subject.
Massachusetts newspapers currently included are the: Ayer Public Spirit, Berkshire Eagle, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, Groton Landmark, Harvard Hillside, Lowell Sun, North Adams Transcript, Pepperell Free Press, Shirley Oracle, Springfield Republican and Townsend Times. Major newspapers and some magazines from throughout the United States and Canada are also included.
Individuals wishing to sign up for the free service are encouraged to contact the Braille & Talking Book Library by phone at 1-800-852-3133 or via e-mail at email@example.com. For more information, go to www.perkinslibrary.org.
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.