Future Reflections Winter/Spring 1997, Vol. 16 No. 1
[PICTURE] Baltimore area high school students Sherria Young (left) learns to use Newsline during a training session for blind youth at the National Center for the Blind. Tyronne Bratcher listens carefully as Sherria recieves instruction from Newsline user and local NFB chapter member Bernice Lowder (right).
Newsline is a totally electronic telephone delivery system which uses computer synthetic speech. Newspapers and other material are available by 7:00 each morning. The entire text of today's, the previous day's, and the most recent Sunday's issue of each paper is available by simply dialing a conventional phone. Newsline for the Blind is currently available in about 32 service areas around the nation.
Students who are unable to read conventional print due to a visual disability or are physically disabled and registered with the State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped can become registered with Newsline by simply filling out a short form and mailing it to the NFB at 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. Identification numbers and security codes are then issued to each child. This number and code allows the reader to use any touch tone phone to access Newsline.
TIPS FOR TEACHERS
1. A current events reading assignment or project that involves reading newspapers can be done with the use of Newsline. The disabled student has the flexibility to read quickly over headlines or a few sentences of an article, thus making it possible to look easily for articles related to an assignment.
2. Assignments that deal with writing can use Newsline as a tool that encourages students to become familiar with the newspaper journalism style. After reading assignments and discussion students could be assigned a writing task. The students' writing styles could then be compared to material in the newspapers. If possible, the teacher could use a speaker phone in the classroom so all students could listen to the styles being discussed. Learning would cover several dimensions including reading, writing, comparison, and listening skills.
3. Newsline is a good way to introduce students to synthetic computer speech. Even if students are a little young for serious reading of newspapers, Newsline may be interesting because they can have fun using telephones and listening to novel synthetic speech. The system allows for the change of voice inflections and rates of speed, as well as commands for moving around in the text.
4. Blind and visually impaired students can demonstrate Newsline as a class public speaking project. This new technology will be interesting to the other children and a demonstration will help them understand, in a way that is fun, how blind persons do things differently.
5. Contests using Newsline can be offered to students with disabilities or integrated into regular classroom activities. For example, students can be challenged to find as many articles as they can that have to do with foreign policy. This can serve as an exercise in using the system, a learning experience concerning the concept of foreign policy, and all through the use of their own familiar telephones. The possibilities are many. We are all invested in improving educational opportunities and encouraging literacy among our blind and visually impaired youth. Newsline can be a helpful tool.
To find out if there is a Newsline service in your area and how you may register for it, call the National Federation of the Blind at (410) 659-9314. For other questions or information about Newsline or other services to children and youth please contact: Mrs. Barbara Cheadle, President, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, (410) 659-9314.