by Peggy Chong
From the Editor: Peggy Chong is working full-time with the NEWSLINEŽ program at the National Center. Here is her progress report:
Of all the many projects of the National Federation of the Blind, NEWSLINEŽ for the Blind is one of the fastest growing. We are pleased to welcome three new NEWSLINE sites to the state of Arizona. They are located in the cities of Phoenix, Prescott, and Tucson and are sponsored by the Arizona Department of Library, Archives, and Public Records. Blind people in these communities were able to begin reading several national newspapers by the end of January, 2000. Plans are evolving to have two local papers available soon as well to readers in Arizona.
An additional site in Connecticut has been established in Stamford, funded in part by generous contributions from the newspapers that serve the state. New sites in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield, Missouri, will also soon be online.
This brings the number of local service centers now serving blind readers to sixty-nine, about to become seventy-two. Through these centers blind people in hundreds of communities now have more flexibility and options when reading the newspaper.
Many subscribers call to tell us how much they use and rely on NEWSLINE. A sports reporter from Minnesota tells me that having NEWSLINE saves him time on the job. He no longer needs to employ a reader to sift through the newspaper to find tidbits of information about baseball. He can do it from home early each morning or even from his hotel room while on the road. NEWSLINE has kept him better informed and prepared for his job.
Many seniors who have lost the ability to read the newspaper are overjoyed to be able to read it again each day. Job seekers are also glad that they can finally use newspapers to gather important information and background to help them make a favorable impression during an interview and land the job.
More and more states are finding ways to bring NEWSLINE to their home communities, providing immediate access to today's news today. The map in the print edition shows the thirty-two states, the District of Columbia, and Toronto, Canada, that now have access to at least one NEWSLINE Service Center. But many communities are still without access to daily newspapers that blind people can read for themselves.
This easy-to-use service provides at least three national newspapers to each local service center. In many cases additional papers, including local ones, are added to the site. Through the local access channel smaller items of interest are added to serve the local community better. Items such as voting information, bus schedule changes, newsletters for seniors, and Library-for-the-Blind publications are just a small sample of the items placed on local channels on the NEWSLINE system.
Each day's edition of the papers provided is made available through NEWSLINE. Each daily paper remains on the system the day it is published and the following day. The Sunday edition, if one is published, will remain on the system for the entire week.
NEWSLINE delivers the entire text of the paper. Because we use electronic files received directly from the newspapers themselves, using text-to-speech software, we can translate each paper quickly and make it available to blind and print-impaired subscribers in a timely fashion. You will not find month-old newspapers on this system.
The NEWSLINE ID number and security code you use in your local area will also work when you visit any of the other NEWSLINE service areas. To learn the local telephone number for any NEWSLINE site, read "NEWSLINE Network News," available on your Local Service Center. If you do not have an ID number and would like to sign up for NEWSLINE, contact your local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind or the national office in Baltimore, Maryland.
If you would like more information on how to establish a NEWSLINE site in your area, call our national office at (410) 659-9314. We will be glad to give you the information you need to help provide national newspapers to the blind and print-impaired of your community.
[PHOTO DESCRIPTION: The map pictured here depicts the fifty United States, as well as Toronto, Canada. States having more than one local service center are black, those with one local service center only have a striped fill, and those still waiting for their first NEWSLINE site are white. The fourteen black states are AZ, CA, CT, IL, IA, MD, MI, MO, NJ, OH, OK, TN, TX, and WI. The eighteen states and one Canadian province with one NEWSLINE site are CO, DE, DC, HI, ID, KY, LA, MA, MN, MS, NE, NY, NC, SC, Toronto, UT, VA, WA, and WV. The nineteen states still waiting for NEWSLINE are AL, AK, AR, FL, GA, IN, KS, ME, MT, NV, NH, NM, ND, OR, PA, RI, SD, VT, and WY.]
NEWSLINE for the Blind Service Areas