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‘Audio Journal’ Volunteers Connect The Visually Impaired To Community

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) — Using the airwaves to read, for those who can’t It’s a team effort of 170 volunteers helping more than a thousand people in central Massachusetts stay connected.

At a small radio station in Worcester, an army of volunteers reads everything from newspapers to grocery store circulars.

It’s called Audio Journal, broadcasting 24 hours a day primarily to people with vision problems, like Beth.

“When I discovered it, it was like a whole new world,” she says.

Using a special radio she received free from Audio Journal, she stays connected.

“I listen starting out usually with the Wall Street Journal, then I listen to the obits and the news and the front page,” she says.

But it’s the partnership between the many volunteers who do the reading and listeners like Beth that makes the service unique.

“You don’t know them really, but their voices become familiar and they’re like friends,” says Beth

“We try our very best to read as much of the front page and the local page as we possibly can so people in the area know what their local news is,” says Susan Cadin, who has volunteered at Audio Journal for about three years.

“I’m sure it takes them out of the dark. It gives them something they can turn to every day,” adds Chris Dougherty, a 10 year volunteer.

Audio Journal services central Massachusetts.

With the exception of a few paid staff the operation is run by volunteers and that means it can be offered for free.

“We want to act as the eyes of our listeners…by providing access to local newspapers and books and magazines,” says Audio Journal Director Vincent Lombardi.

“I enjoy the feeling that I’m being of some service to people in the community,” says volunteer reader Susan Phyfe.

“I feel that it shows that people are really good at heart and they want to help people,” adds Walter Schumacher, another long time volunteer.

“The only thing I can’t do is the crossword puzzle, but maybe they’ll figure out something that will help me with that, too,” says Beth.

The team of volunteers also reads community newspapers, magazines and even perform radio plays.

 

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