Volunteers read to listeners on Audio-Reader Network

Most clients of Kansas University’s Audio-Reader Network couldn’t read this sentence. But they could have it read to them by some of the hundreds of volunteers that give their time to read newspapers, magazines, books and catalogs to the blind and visually impaired.

Audio-Reader is a 24-hour, closed-circuit radio station, providing readings of daily newspapers, national news and general interest magazines, best-selling books and shopping catalogs.

Listeners are given a free, special radio that is tuned to only one frequency, Audio-Reader’s signal. That signal is carried on “subcarriers” of many radio stations throughout the state, giving Lawrence-based Audio-Reader blanket coverage of Kansas.

“Audio-Reader provides a unique service to our listeners,” said Janet Campbell, who has worked at Audio-Reader since 1979 and been director of the service since 1987. “We keep people informed about their local communities, connected to national and world news stories and entertained with books, magazines and theater.”

Audio-Reader has more than 6,000 listeners. About 200 volunteers donate their time to read for an hour or two per week. Many readers have been Audio-Reader volunteers for decades. In fact, the first voice that Audio-Reader listeners heard in 1971, Eleanor Symons, still reads three days a week.

Audio-Reader, 1120 W. 11th St., provides a range of other services as well:

  • Telephone Reader allows a listener to dial an 800-number and choose from a menu of recorded newspapers and magazines, in English and Spanish.
  • A special recording service allows a listener to request a cassette recording of printed material not normally read on Audio-Reader programs.
  • Audio description of live theater allows a theatergoer to have the play’s action and visual information described through special headphones.
  • A sensory garden is next to the Audio-Reader building. The handicapped-accessible garden features Braille-labeled plants with a strong sensory appeal of fragrance and touch.
  • Audio-Reader’s broadcast stream is also available on the Internet at reader.ku.edu. Archived broadcasts of USA Today readings are available from the Web page.
  • An annual “For Your Ears Only” record sale that raises funds for the service.
  • Braille and large-print program listings are sent monthly to listeners and broadcasts also are available at some hospitals and nursing homes.

For more information, call 864-4600.