Skip to main content

Critical Funding Shortage Threatens NFB-NEWSLINE in Michigan

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-09-30 (Revised/Updated 2016-06-13) - Print-Disabled Michigan Residents May Lose Free Independent Access to Newspapers and Magazines - National Federation of the Blind of Michigan.

Main Document

Quote: "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."

On Friday Thousands of Print-Disabled Michigan Residents 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 Michigan, effective this Friday, October 1. Termination of this service will drastically limit the ability of thousands of print-disabled Michigan residents 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 people can 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 Friday, October 1, blind and print-disabled Michigan residents will no longer have access to NFB-NEWSLINE®.

For the past several years, Michigan's NFB-NEWSLINE® service has been sponsored by the Michigan Commission for the Blind, but the funds themselves (approximately $80,000 annually) have been passed to the Commission through the Michigan Department of Education. In January of 2010 the NFB-NEWSLINE® funding was suddenly withdrawn from the Department of Education's budget, without explanation, but the Commission for the Blind gave no indication that it would cease to cover this vital service. In fact, the Commission's state plan (a federally mandated document outlining all services provided by a vocational rehabilitation agency during each year), continued to include NFB-NEWSLINE® as late as June 22, 2010.

Larry Posont, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, said: "On Friday blind and print-disabled Michigan residents will be losing an incredibly valuable service that helps us to connect with the world at large and with our own communities. One of the things that makes this service so popular is the fact that it is easy to access anywhere in Michigan, even at the top of the Upper Peninsula, and you don't need to have a computer. There are so many blind people, particularly older residents, who can't afford computers and really don't have any other way to access print media."

The Commission for the Blind has received nearly 4 million dollars in stimulus funding since 2009, of which it has spent less than 25 percent. Nonetheless, Commission Director Patrick Cannon has indicated that the agency will not fund NFB-NEWSLINE® without the funds from the Department of Education.

In response to this news, Larry Posont has written to Patrick Cannon three times in recent weeks, in an effort to avoid a shutdown. Mr. Cannon has refused to respond to any of Mr. Posont's inquiries, saying only that the Commission will not continue to provide funding for the NFB-NEWSLINE® service.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "With NFB-NEWSLINE, blind and print-disabled people 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 six Michigan newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, the Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Lansing State Journal, and the Mining Journal, as well as the Michigan Associated Press wire feed. In addition to state newspapers from Michigan and across the nation, subscribers have access to many national publications, including the New York Times, USA Today, Popular Science, the Economist, and the Christian Science Monitor. NFB-NEWSLINE® also provides print-disabled Michigan residents 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 Michigan Commission for the Blind, Michigan Legislative Service Bureau, the Michigan State House of Representatives, and the Michigan State Senate can provide, at no cost, vital information to this population in an accessible format.

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

To learn how you can help keep NFB-NEWSLINE available in Michigan, please call Larry Posont, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, at (313) 271-3058 or send e-mail to

To learn more about NFB-NEWSLINE®, please visit

About the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan

With chapters in most major cities, the Michigan affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the Great Lakes State. Since 1941, in connection with thousands of blind Michigan residents, the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan has worked to improve the lives of blind citizens in its affiliate through advocacy, education, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence.

Related Information:

  1. Funding Shortage Threatens NFB-NEWSLINE for Blind and Print Disabled
  2. Bookshare Online Books for Print and Vision Disabilities
  3. Access to Books by Americans with Print Disabilities

Information from our Disability News: Michigan section - (Full List).


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.

Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.

List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.

Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be. Also see information on blood group types and compatibility.

  1. Majority in Favor of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Screening
  2. When the Spinal Cord Takes Charge of Information Related to Movement
  3. Sign Language Comparative List of Astronomical Words
  4. Israeli President Honors Special Education Teachers


Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

Disclaimer: Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.