Audio-Reader launches new programming to make regional nonprofit news reporting accessible to individuals with disabilities

LAWRENCE — Audio-Reader Network, an audio information service based at the University of Kansas that makes print and online materials accessible to individuals with disabilities, has launched multiple hours of new content with a focus on nonprofit news reporting across Kansas and Missouri. The expanded programming offers individuals with visual impairments and print disabilities access to content from The Kansas Reflector, The Missouri Independent and the Beacon Media network in Kansas City and Wichita. Audio versions of these publications are available through closed-circuit FM radios, online broadcast streams and Amazon Alexa-enabled smart speakers. This service is offered free of charge to qualifying individuals.

Volunteers Dave Corley and Jim Carnell reading newspapers for Audio-Reader. Photo credit: Meredith Johanning

Featuring three of the largest nonprofit news outlets from across the region, “The Newsroom Hour” is a new hour of content that airs weekdays on Audio-Reader. The primary content for the programming comes from The States Newsroom network of media outlets with additional reporting offered by the Kansas City Beacon, The Kansas City Defender, Kansas News Service and Startland News. The new content represents a growing field of “public service journalism” in the region that follows a nonprofit model, focusing on statehouse reporting, local politics, health care, housing and civic issues. “The Newsroom Hour” can be heard at 2 p.m. weekdays on Audio-Reader’s Kansas City broadcast stream, the digital web archive and the Amazon Alexa skill.

“In serving individuals with print disabilities, we strive to provide access to information from a wide variety of sources,” said Audio-Reader Program Manager Nick Carswell. “It is crucially important that we pay attention to trends within our regional news ecosystem to ensure our listeners have access to the news that is most pertinent to their lives. That’s frequently and historically been the local newspaper, but as new outlets and models of local journalism emerge, we want to ensure those are also offered in an accessible format.”

In addition to “The Newsroom Hour,” Audio-Reader also has launched a partnership with the Beacon Media group to add audio versions of The Wichita Beacon articles to Audio-Reader’s digital streaming offerings. Since 2020, individual stories from the Kansas City Beacon have been available for online streaming through Audio-Reader’s Soundcloud platform. With the Wichita Beacon content now available in audio format, local journalism covering government, education, health and housing in Kansas’s largest city is now accessible to those with visual impairments and print disabilities. This content joins existing readings of The Wichita Eagle, The Hutchinson News and other local newspapers that serve the south-central Kansas region.

The Audio-Reader Network fosters independence by providing access to information and the arts for people who have difficulty reading standard print due to vision loss, physical or learning disability, mobility challenges, and age. Audio-Reader services are free of charge to anyone who is unable to read standard printed material. The organization relies on volunteer readers to create the content for its services, and it is 100% supported by donors and grants.

Fri, 10/27/2023


Martha Kehr

Media Contacts

Martha Kehr

Kansas Audio-Reader