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.
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 140-some services and developing services.
Member 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 reading service that delivers its programs via audio technology is eligible for full membership. Some member services are stand-alone nonprofit organizations, while the majority are affiliated with state or national agencies or community organizations that serve people who are blind or print impaired.
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 has an inability to see or hold standard printed materials is eligible to become a radio reading service listener. More people than ever are facing the threat of blindness from age-related eye disease, a 2002 report says.
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 hospital rooms, 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 Locater page.
Programming/Types of Information
Most services use volunteer readers to provide immediate, verbatim audio access to newspapers, magazines, consumer information and other materials that are not available in Braille or on tape, 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, radio reading 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.
Radio reading services are typically broadcast on a subcarrier channel of an FM radio station. Listeners must have a special, pre-tuned radio receiver to pick up the closed circuit broadcast. Receivers are frequently loaned to listeners by the reading service at no cost.
Some services disseminate programming over a television SAP (Second Audio Program) channel, community cable systems or FM cable services. In some situations open channel radio broadcasts are used or a combination of technology. Many services also offer live audio streaming of their programming over the Internet and some offer access to archived readings through the Internet or telephone dial-in systems.
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 or contact: Lori Kesinger at firstname.lastname@example.org .
For additional information about becoming a member, listener, volunteer or donor, call the International Association of Audio Information Services.