KU News Release
Dec. 3, 2011
Contact: Janet Campbell, Kansas Public Radio, 785-864-4603
Kansas Audio Reader helping broadcast news for blind in Minnesota
LAWRENCE — For the next few days, the blind and others using Minnesota’s Radio Talking Books Network will be hearing the news through Kansas Audio Reader at the University of Kansas.
The Minnesota network announced today that it has a signal going out for the first time in three weeks, but for a few days listeners will be hearing news broadcast by Kansas Audio Reader.
The Minnesota network was off the air and employees were not permitted to report to work for three weeks when the state’s government shut down because lawmakers were unable to agree on a budget. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a new budget Wednesday, ending the government shutdown that closed state parks and a host of other services, including the Talking Books Network.
Janet Campbell, director of Kansas Public Radio and Kansas Audio Reader services, said that Kansas had offered to link to the Minnesota listeners by satellite when the state’s government shut down. It wasn’t possible for the Minnesota network to accept the offer until yesterday, when Minnesota state employees were allowed to re-enter their offices.
Kansas Audio Reader serves about 6,000 people who are blind, visually impaired or have disabilities making it difficult to read publications. The service has at least eight satellites allowing it to broadcast statewide in Kansas and western Missouri.
Kansas Audio Reader satellite connections are also to helping serve the blind and visually impaired listeners in communities in Texas and Alabama, where radio services for the blind have ended due to budget cuts.
“Minnesota has been a leader in providing radio services to the blind and visually impaired,” Campbell said. “They were the first in the nation to operate a radio news service. We were the second radio service.”
Although some services for the blind in Kansas have been cut due to lack of state funding since 2008, Kansas Audio Reader’s 24-hour service of reading daily newspapers, magazines and best-selling has been able to continue.
Audio Reader reads on the air and on the Internet. In its 40 years of operation, Kansas Audio Reader has grown from serving northeast Kansas to broadcasting statewide. The Kansas service operates with some state funding and generous support of its listeners and community groups and businesses.
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