The WHRO Voice Continues Reading Service For The Blind And Visually Impaired
- Written by Belinda Elliott
- Category: Community
- Published: 21 April 2023
The WHRO Voice continues to expand its offering that help connect blind and vision impaired members of the community to local news sources. Among its many broadcast services, WHRO Public Media has been providing radio reading programs for the blind and visually impaired for 42 years. From the beginning, it has placed an emphasis on connecting listeners with their local newspapers. This work continues as staff and volunteers have added more community newspaper readings through the years.
“During the last half of 2022, we completed our post-pandemic volunteer staffing allowing us to provide exclusively “local” newspaper readings seven days a week, year round“ explained James Holzer who coordinates the programs and volunteer staff for the streaming radio service.
“During the pandemic, volunteers had to read newspapers remotely from their homes every weekday using free audio recording applications like "Audacity" to create mp3 audio files which they sent to me for broadcast over the WHRO Voice stream," Holzer explained. "During that time, we took the opportunity to update our Norfolk studios and welcomed back our volunteer readers for "live" readings in April, 2022. Many of our readers who read remotely from their homes also continue to produce recordings which allowed us to expand our coverage of local newspapers throughout southeastern Virginia."
Each week, The WHRO Voice now produces 45 hours of “local” readings and programs from nearly every daily and weekly newspaper throughout southeastern Virginia. This includes readings from The Virginian Pilot, Daily Press, Suffolk News-Herald, Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg), Eastern Shore Post, Tidewater News (Franklin), The Flagship (Military) and the Tidewater Hispanic News (en español). They also produce a weekly half-hour audio news magazine modeled after NPR’s popular All Things Considered as well as a weekly reading of grocery ads from area super markets and, of course, the popular Short Story Hour. On Saturdays, the Voice will be adding a one-hour local magazine production which will include talented young disabled teens and adults showcasing their artistic and literary abilities. Plans are also in the works to co-produce a broadcast with a local chapter of the Lions whose members are primarily vision impaired. During the evening and early morning hours, programming is supplemented with regional and national readings from The Virginia Voice in Richmond.
The service is supported by 70 volunteer readers, but they aren’t just behind the microphone. Staff and volunteers enjoy getting out into the community as well. Earlier this year, representatives of the Voice jointly presented an educational program with Bill Caruso, a teacher with the Virginia VA Department for the Blind & Vision Impaired (DBVI), at the Williamsburg Landing retirement community. And, as they have done in past years, the WHRO Voice continues to be present at special Virginia Stage Company productions featuring audio description services.
You can find a full schedule of the Voice’s programs here.
Listen to programs in real time by going to whro.org/voice.
The WHRO Voice is funded in part by the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired and by individual donors.