FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Larry Posont
President
National Federation of the Blind of Michigan
(313) 271-3058
Scott White
NFB-NEWSLINE®
Director
(410) 659-9314, extension 2231

Critical Funding Shortage Threatens NFB-NEWSLINE® in Michigan

Thousands of Print-Disabled Michigan Residents May Lose Free, Independent Access to Newspapers and Magazines

Baltimore, Maryland (August 31, 2010):  Due to lack of funding, NFB-NEWSLINE®, a free service that provides independent access by print-disabled people to hundreds of local and national publications and TV listings, will be turned off in Michigan, effective October 1, 2010.  Termination of this service will drastically limit the ability of thousands of print-disabled Michigan residents to obtain in-depth information about international affairs, local events, and breaking news easily and independently.

NFB-NEWSLINE® allows those who cannot read conventional newsprint due to a visual or physical disability to listen to newspapers and magazines over the telephone, on the Web, or by download to a digital talking-book player.  Through the service, print-disabled people can access over three hundred newspapers and magazines independently, determining how, when, and where they wish to read their favorite publications.  If funding is not found on or before October 1, 2010, blind and print-disabled Michigan residents will no longer have access to NFB-NEWSLINE®.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “With NFB-NEWSLINE®, blind and print-disabled people can benefit from the vital news contained in newspapers and magazines.  Access to information such as analyses of current events, political commentary, and international news helps all individuals, including the print-disabled, to be successful participants in their workplaces and in the world.  NFB-NEWSLINE® offers us the ability to read the news independently, choosing the content that is of interest to us.  As a subscriber, I truly benefit from the service every day, and would very much miss reading the paper with my morning cup of coffee.”

NFB-NEWSLINE® offers six Michigan newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, the Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Lansing State Journal, and the Mining Journal, as well as the Michigan Associated Press wire feed.  In addition to state newspapers from Michigan and across the nation, subscribers have access to many national publications, including the New York Times, USA Today, Popular Science, the Economist, and the Christian Science Monitor.  NFB-NEWSLINE® also provides print-disabled Michigan residents access to information from state agencies and legislative bodies that can otherwise be difficult to obtain.  Through a state-specific channel on the service, entities such as the Michigan Commission for the Blind, Michigan Legislative Service Bureau, the Michigan State House of Representatives, and the Michigan State Senate can provide, at no cost, vital information to this population in an accessible format.

“This truly is a crisis for the blind and print-disabled of Michigan, as we will be losing an incredibly valuable service that helps us to connect with the world at large and with our own communities,” said Larry Posont, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan.  “With NFB-NEWSLINE®, for more than ten years I have been able to read the Wall Street Journal, Roll Call, and the New York Times to keep up on national news and to learn about economic forecasts and pending governmental legislation.  I also read the Lansing State Journal to learn about events in my community.  Losing this innovative service would have a profoundly negative impact on my life, as the service helps me not only as a citizen and retired businessman, but also in my role as an advocate for the blind in Michigan State.”

Peter Zaremba, a blind resident of Michigan, said: “Using NFB-NEWSLINE® I can access at any time and at any place the same essential and entertaining news that my sighted peers enjoy.  This helps me to be successful in my business of course, but also in my relationships with others, as conversations with colleagues, neighbors, and friends often revolve around the news of the day.  It would be virtually impossible for me to obtain the news I need without NFB-NEWSLINE® and I would miss having access to this invaluable resource were it to be shut down.”

Scott White, director of NFB-NEWSLINE®, said: “While it would be a great shame to close this vital service to blind Michigan residents, unless we are able to locate or are provided with a funding source, we have no choice but to turn off NFB-NEWSLINE® in Michigan on October 1.”

To learn how you can help keep NFB-NEWSLINE® available in Michigan, please call Larry Posont, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, at (313) 271-3058 or send e-mail to president.nfb.mi@gmail.com.  

To learn more about NFB-NEWSLINE®, please visit www.nfbnewsline.org.