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Funding Shortage Threatens NFB-NEWSLINE for Blind and Print Disabled

  • Published: 2010-01-11 (Revised/Updated 2010-09-30) : Author: National Federation of the Blind
  • Synopsis: Free service that provides independent access by print-disabled people to hundreds of local and national publications and TV listings.

Main Document

Thousands of Print-Disabled New Yorkers May Lose Free, Independent Access to Newspapers and Magazines.

Due to lack of funding, NFB-NEWSLINE®, a free service that provides independent access by print-disabled people to hundreds of local and national publications and TV listings, will be turned off in New York, effective February 1, 2010. Termination of this service will drastically limit the ability of thousands of print-disabled New Yorkers to obtain in-depth information about international affairs, local events, and breaking news easily and independently.

NFB-NEWSLINE® allows those who cannot read conventional newsprint due to a visual or physical disability to listen to newspapers and magazines over the telephone, on the Web, or by download to a digital talking-book player.Through the service, print-disabled New Yorkers have been able to access over three hundred newspapers and magazines independently, determining how, when, and where they wish to read their favorite publications. If funding is not found on or before February 1, 2010, blind and print-disabled New Yorkers will no longer have access to NFB-NEWSLINE® and the value it provides in their lives

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said, "With NFB-NEWSLINE®, the print-disabled can benefit from the vital news contained in newspapers and magazines. Access to information such as analyses of current events, political commentary, and international news helps all individuals, including the print-disabled, to be successful participants in their workplaces and in the world. NFB-NEWSLINE® offers us the ability to read the news independently, choosing the content that is of interest to us. As a subscriber, I truly benefit from the service every day, and would very much miss reading the paper with my morning cup of coffee."

NFB-NEWSLINE® offers eight New York newspapers, including the New York Times, the Buffalo News, the Albany Times Union , Long Island Newsday, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle , as well as the New York Associated Press wire feed. In addition to state newspapers from New York and across the nation, subscribers have access to many national publications, including USA Today , Popular Science , the Economist , and the Christian Science Monitor . NFB-NEWSLINE® also provides print-disabled New Yorkers access to information from state agencies and legislative bodies that can otherwise be difficult to obtain. Through a state-specific channel on the service, entities such as the New York State Consumer Protection Board, the New York State Assembly, and the New York State Senate can provide, at no cost, vital information to this population in an accessible format as required by law.

"This truly is a crisis for blind and print-disabled New Yorkers, as we will be losing an incredibly valuable service that helps us to connect with the world at large and with our own communities," said Carl Jacobsen, president of the National Federation of the Blind of New York. "With NFB-NEWSLINE®, for more than ten years I have been able to read the Wall Street Journal , Roll Call , and the New York Times to keep up on national news and to learn about economic forecasts and pending governmental legislation. As a Brooklynite, I also read the Times to learn about events in my community, and to read coverage about my Yankees. Losing this innovative service would have a profoundly negative impact on my life, as the service helps me not only as a citizen and businessman, but also in my role as an advocate for the blind in New York State."

Neville Williams, a Bronx native who runs a vending operation in a Manhattan courthouse, said: "Using NFB-NEWSLINE®, I can access, at any time and at any place, the same essential and entertaining news that my sighted peers enjoy. This helps me to be successful in my business of course, but also in my relationships with others, as conversations with colleagues, neighbors, and friends often revolve around the news of the day. It would be virtually impossible for me to obtain the news I need without NFB-NEWSLINE® and I would miss having access to this invaluable resource were it to be shut down."

Scott White, director of NFB-NEWSLINE®, said, "While it would be a great shame to close this vital service to blind New Yorkers, unless we are able to locate or are provided with a funding source, we have no choice but to turn off NFB-NEWSLINE® in New York on February 1."

To learn how you can help keep NFB-NEWSLINE® available in New York, please call Carl Jacobsen, president of the National Federation of the Blind of New York, at (718) 567-7821.

About the National Federation of the Blind of New York

With chapters in all major cities, the New York affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the Empire State. Since 1956, in connection with thousands of blind New Yorkers, the National Federation of the Blind of New York has worked to improve the lives of blind citizens in its affiliate through advocacy, education, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence.

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