Florida Stations Cut or Reduce Reading Services

RRS casualties of state budget cuts
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Blind people in Florida will have fewer sources of audio content shortly. This may be a trend given that a year ago I wrote about Oregon Public Broadcasting turning off its reading service.

The state of Florida has eliminated funding for all radio reading services, according to the Orlando Sentinel. That is leading nine stations that operate reading services to reduce, or even eliminate, the services, which are carried on their FM subcarriers and HD Radio multicast channels.

WFSU in Tallahassee is turning off its service for the blind or sight-impaired completely after June 30 and WMFE in Orlando is ending its locally-programmed service in favor of national reading programs from In-Touch radio network.

WMFE is also telling these listeners they can use Newsline from the National Federation of the Blind by signing up at NFB.org. With a touch-tone telephone, users can have stories from several newspapers and magazines read to them. The nationwide service can be accessed from anywhere.

For WMFE, radio listeners hear the readings using an SCA receiver to hear a subcarrier of 90.7 FM analog, or an HD Radio receiver to hear a multicast channel of 90.7 FM. TV listeners can hear the programming on a SAP channel of DTV Channel 24.

According to the Sentinel, other Florida stations will drop or reduce their service — except for WLRN in Miami, which tells the paper they'll cut funds from other areas without reducing the RRS.

This is yet another reason to include RRS capability in HD Radios so organizations that help the blind and visually-impaired can get out of the business of providing SCA receivers. I reported shortly after the spring NAB Show that Dice had delayed its plans to debut such a receiver until early 2010 due to the poor economy.

Related

Reading Service Imperiled In Oregon

“It’s worrisome because it sets a precedent,” said Heather Lusignan, immediate past president of IAAIS. Reading service organizers say the OPB decision ignores the needs of older, visually-impaired, less technology-literate people.