Promising medium for the blind: audio over the Internet

The Internet will revolutionize how radio reading services deliver — and their visually impaired clients receive — information, but providers are just beginning to explore the possibilities. Of the 100 or so radio reading services that belong to the International Association of Audio Information Services, only a handful now have web sites that provide audio streaming. Theoretically at least, “every radio reading program can be put onto an audio server and listened to by any blind person anywhere, anytime,” as long as he or she has Internet access, Bob Brummond, g.m. of the RAISE Reading Service in Asheville, N.C., told attendees at the IAAIS annual conference last month in Washington, D.C.

The Internet offers a way to leapfrog over many of the problems facing radio reading services. Services typically broadcast over a subcarrier channel of an FM radio station (frequently a public radio station or one associated with a college or library). Listeners must have a special subsidiary communications authorization (SCA) receiver to hear the closed-circuit broadcast.