Try to imagine not being able to read this grant application for yourself. Who would read print material to you if you became blind or otherwise disabled so that you could no longer hold a magazine or easily navigate a website? Virginia Voice is a resource for current information and news delivered in audio format so that individuals with “print disabilities” can have access to the local articles in Style magazine, the latest Hollywood gossip from People or product reviews of the new iPhone in Consumer Reports . Connecting individuals to our local community and beyond, Virginia Voice serves as eyes for those who cannot see and hands for those who cannot turn pages.
During a recent focus group session with a group of blind, college-bound teens who were learning independent living skills at the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind & Vision Impaired, a young Virginia Voice listener made a request for a new program. He asked us to read the satirical articles published in The Onion. This student appreciates the edgy commentary, but said that it eats up too much of his time to navigate The Onion’s congested website using the text reader app on his smartphone. For him, listening would be much easier and more enjoyable if we could add it to our program line-up. We happily obliged, and now it is one of our most accessed on-demand programs.
Virginia Voice offers several different options for listening to our audio information and news. Our traditional mode is by way of radios that are specially designed to receive only our Virginia Voice closed-circuit broadcast. However, in recent years, we have also made our programs available online, for both on-demand and live-stream listening.
We are determined to make our service as accessible as possible to everyone who can benefit from it. As part of our Accessibility Advancement Initiative, your DRHS Marathon Dance grant will assist us with the mobile optimization of our website and the development of our own Virginia Voice smartphone app. In order to meet the needs of an ever-growing and ever-changing population of print disabled individuals, we are committed to keeping pace with current trends and emerging technologies in regard to program content and service delivery.