Almost one and a half million Americans are legally blind, and of those, over 90% do not read Braille.
There are many reasons why people may not be able to read normal printed material, and vision loss is the biggest factor. Well over 20 million Americans have experienced significant vision loss, and that number rises every day.
Over six million Americans over 65 have vision loss that prevents them from reading. But there are nine million people in the 45 to 64 age range with vision loss. As these “baby boomers” age, the numbers with vision loss will likely dramatically exceed those of the present generation of seniors.
Information can help provide personal independence, and one way of providing printed information to those who cannot read is via Audio Information Services. Volunteer readers and computer speech can read daily newspapers, magazines and best-selling books to thousands of people at a time at low cost. Services can include closed-circuit radio broadcasts, dial-in telephone newspaper systems, personal recording and internet broadcasting and program archives.
IAAIS is a worldwide organization of over a hundred independent Audio Information Services which provide printed material in audio form. In almost all cases, these services are provided free of charge.
IAAIS assists and encourages the formation of Audio Information Services. We’ve consulted with or had member services from South Africa, Japan, New Zealand and Canada. We’ve sent representatives to AIS-development workshops in Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama. IAAIS works with the FCC to advocate for our print-impaired audience, and we’ve worked with Ibiquity and National Public Radio in the development of new digital technology that expands the capabilities of HD Radio to serve the needs of the blind.
If you or someone you know is unable to read normal printed material, there is probably an IAAIS member service ready to help.