It is the position of IAAIS that everyone with a visual, physical or learning disability has a right to equal access to all forms of information available to the general public. IAAIS works actively to promote and protect this access.
The International Association of Audio Information Services connects and supports organizations for people with disabilities worldwide.
In March of 2020 as the Coronavirus Pandemic began, many audio information services closed their recording studios and scrambled for a way to continue providing programming. Our member services knew access to information would be more important than ever. Through weekly phone calls hosted by IAAIS our member services were able to share national programming, give tips and pointers to assist volunteers in creating home recording studios, and provide emotional support to each other.
The primary recipients of audio information services, individuals with print disabilities, were disproportionally affected by the lockdown. Elderly and disabled individuals living in congregate settings were denied access to social interaction with group meals and activities being curtailed to keep them safe. Individuals living alone were unable to seek companionship through things as basic as attending church or going to the grocery store. While this social isolation grew, the need for information grew. IAAIS member services were able to provide information on rates of COVID-19 infections for each community, information on safety measures and mask mandates, and later information on testing and vaccination sites. Many hosted interview shows with local health departments and medical doctors, some rebroadcast press conferences from mayors and governors and university presidents.
IAAIS member services strive to:
- Combat social isolation
- Improve access to information
- Offer a connection to community
- Be a source of information and referral
According to a study by the Campaign to End Loneliness, Loneliness is both a cause and contributor to depression and when loneliness and depression co-exist there is increased risk of early mortality. It is estimated that depression affects 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 or over. This relationship between depression and loneliness means that by alleviating one we may be able to reduce the other.
Activities can provide distraction from negative thoughts. These vary enormously from simple pastimes like reading, listening to the radio, or doing puzzles to more creative interests like gardening, arts and crafts and singing. To find and audio information service near you visit https://iaais.org/stations/
IAAIS is a volunteer-driven membership organization of services that turn text into speech for people who cannot see, hold or comprehend the printed word and who may be unable to access information due to a disability or health condition.
Since its formation in 1977, IAAIS (formerly the Association of Radio Reading Services) has assisted, represented and set standards of good practice for audio information services worldwide. The organizational name was updated in 1999 to reflect the advent of new technologies for producing and delivering audio and an increased need for reading services throughout the world. IAAIS currently represents 80-some services and developing services.
Audio Information Services can be found throughout the United States and in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Africa. Many IAAIS members in the United States are associated with public radio stations, colleges, universities or libraries. For a complete listing, visit our online directory.
Any organization that delivers its programs via audio technology is eligible for full membership. Some member services are stand-alone nonprofit organizations, while others are affiliated with state or national agencies or community organizations.
Related organizations, businesses and sponsors may also join IAAIS. For information about IAAIS membership benefits, go to Join IAAIS.
Millions of people worldwide are qualified to receive IAAIS members’ services. Anyone who experiences difficulty in accessing printed material is eligible to become listener. This includes not only vision issues but physical mobility challenges, brain injury, and learning disabilities.
Over one million Americans aged 40 and over are currently blind and an additional 2.4 million are visually impaired. These numbers are expected to double over the next 30 years as the Baby Boomer generation ages. Studies show that 1 in 4 persons over the age of 75 and 1 in 6 over 45 have trouble reading because of diminished vision. Dozens of other health and cognitive conditions affect one’s ability to read.
Many audio information services provide service to qualified institutions as well as to individuals, such as hospitals, assisted living facilities, low vision clinics, senior centers and other institutional care facilities where qualified listeners may reside or frequent.
Each independent service has an application procedure. To locate a service in your area visit this site’s Service Locator page.
Programming/Types of Information
Most services use volunteer readers to provide immediate, verbatim audio access to newspapers, magazines, consumer information and other materials including today’s news, features, sports, business, opinions, advertisements and other material from newspapers and magazines. Topic-based and public affairs programs are also available on many services as are some books or story-based shows.
Members services may also offer a variety of related programs, such as personal reader programs; audio description services of live theater, museum exhibits, nature trails, parades, and other visual venues; audio transcription; taping services; or other audio-based community services.
Volunteers provide thousands of hours to produce live and recorded programs for radio reading services each day. With the assistance of these dedicated individuals, audio information services are able to provide their listeners a wide variety of timely and informative programming. Volunteer readers also offer listeners—many of whom are isolated, frail, or elderly—with a unique companionship and community connection.
Every IAAIS member service has its own fund-raising methods. Some receive support from local or state government or are operationally part of such an agency. Others receive private contributions from foundations, service organizations, businesses or corporations and some operate with a mix of public and private funds. Many rely on the generosity of listeners, volunteers and other individuals for voluntary donations.
Establishing a New Service
If you’d like information about starting an audio information service for the benefit of print-impaired members of your community, go to Membership Growth and Mentoring
For additional information about becoming a member, listener, volunteer or donor, call the International Association of Audio Information Services.