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Radio You Can Read and Feel

NPR seeks partnerships with manufacturers for Captioned, Braille and 'Blackboard' radios

NPR is introducing what it calls Captioned, Braille and Blackboard Radios, as well as a new Radio Reading Service receiver, to electronics manufacturers at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

As RW has reported, these efforts are based in part on research at NPR Labs, which now is seeking partnerships with manufacturers to develop receivers.

“NPR plans to award funds for research and development prototyping that would bring these cutting-edge radios into production and into the hands of the consumers within two to five years,” it stated this week.

Captioned Radio uses a screen display on special receivers to allow deaf and hard-of-hearing people to “see” live radio content simultaneously with the broadcast.

Braille Radio takes that speech-to-text information and translates it into Braille through an add-on electronic device that looks like a small keyboard.

Blackboard Radio is an educational initiative that would connect classrooms with students in remote regions or those who can’t leave their environment to get to class. “Electronic chalkboards” would be configured to interconnect with the Blackboard Radio and transmit the screen display in real time. “The Blackboard Radio display design is expected to mirror a digital photo frame in size, look and feel,” NPR announced. “This would allow for the student to see on their display screen what the teacher is writing on the electronic chalkboard in the classroom. The teacher’s spoken voice is heard simultaneously via a radio subcarrier.”

NPR also says at least one new radio reading service receiver could be available this year. “The new design will use an HD Radio format that provides better sound quality and user-friendly features like voice prompts and audio cues that make it easier for the visually disabled to activate the service once they’ve purchased a new generation of HD Radio.” Dice Electronics has made a prototype.

NPR is among those being saluted by Stevie Wonder this week during CES. He’ll host the Vision Free Awards reception, where NPR is being honored for work in accessible digital radio and broadcast services for the sensory impaired.