Jeff Branscome; Fredericksburg ( Virginia ); June 9, 2005
In Fredericksburg (Virginia, America), blind and visually impaired people can now keep up to date on local news and events by punching some numbers on the telephone.
That's because The Free Lance-Star is being made available on Newsline, a free service of the National Federation of the Blind that enables blind and visually impaired users to listen to newspapers on the phone. The programme also caters to people with dyslexia or anyone else who cannot read print due to a disability.
"It's really amazing to listen to, because it's all voice-synthesised," said Florence Barnick, Associate Publisher of The Free Lance-Star .
The paper joined Newsline after local federation members raised $5,000 for the start-up fee.
Newsline boasts around 50,000 subscribers throughout the country and offers, minus the advertisements, more than 180 newspapers - including The New York Times and The Washington Post - as well as some magazines.
Michael Kasey, president of the Fredericksburg Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, says he plans to market Newsline to visually impaired senior citizens and members of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library's talking-book programme, among others.
Mr. Kasey noted that he often dials up Newsline and skims through all the headlines within 30 minutes. Subscribers can skip or fast-forward through stories.
"Newsline saves time because you can hear the paper when you want to," he said. "It's not like you have to tune in to a particular TV channel or radio programme."
For a free subscription, visit