Phone System Helps Vision Impaired

By Camaron Abundes  
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- Just about anyone who opens the Sunday newspaper wants to get a good look at the sales or discounts in the grocery and shopping ads but for vision impaired, blind or disabled clients it can be impossible. The Recording Library of West Texas wants to see to it, area newspapers and everything in them are just a phone call away.
"They deserve access to the same information that you and I have," Executive Director, Trish Speight said, who adds the service will give Recording Library clients access and independence they haven't had before, "People have told us they can't believe [it]. They love the service."

Over the last years, the Recording Library has provided books, magazines, and other publications on tape. The nonprofit has also teamed up with the Texas Department of Assistive and Disabled Services to record Texas Monthly, for clients all over the state.

Last year, they completed a capital campaign to raise money to pay for a New Telephone Reader system that will allow clients to call into four different phone lines, listen to a telephone prompt system and hear the Midland Reporter Telegram, Odessa American and other ads, and TV listings.

Speight says the system should be up and running by August and they plan to add Restaurant Menus and other popular items as they are requested.

"This is information they can't get from any other source. They can't get it from TV, they can't get it off the radio. We're reading things like the obituaries," Speight said, "A lot of our clients are senior citizens and a lot of them do live alone so unless they have a spouse or a child that can be there to read that to them, they won't get that information."

Hundreds of clients already use the Recording Library services but Speight says thousands qualify here in the Basin.

"This is another thing they have to give them a sort of Window to the World," Michael Todd, System Administrator, said.

Todd says the new telephone reader is just a stepping stone for a totally high Tech system.

"We start with the Telephone Reader and this will lead us to podcasting and eventually streaming online," and Todd also wants to one day link up with a commercial radio station to offer a channel completely dedicated to their clients.

Currently, 28 volunteers read the various newspaper sections, but Speight says they will need at least 12 more to operate properly.

"The grocery store ads are some of the most popular, options on the system," Todd said.

Speight says the upkeep on the new digital system is more costly than the old system and they will gladly accept donations or volunteers to help.

To test out the new system call 617-5555 or for more information 682-2731.