National Federation of the Blind Supports Massachusetts Commissioner for the Blind

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NFB Supports Paul Saner’s Efforts to Transition Funding to Employment and Training Programs

The National Federation of the Blind today expressed its support for Massachusetts Commissioner for the Blind Paul Saner and his plan to transition funding into more programs for employment and technology training for the blind.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind is dedicated to ensuring that every blind person can live the life he or she wants. We therefore believe that the services of rehabilitation agencies must be directed toward training blind people for employment in today’s economy, as well as helping them to acquire and maintain jobs.”

The Commission for the Blind will be transitioning funding from the Massachusetts Talking Information Center into other essential programs over a period of three years. While the move has garnered some criticism, alternatives for accessing newspapers, magazines, and other printed information exist in Massachusetts. One such alternative information resource for the blind is NFB-NEWSLINE®, funded by the Perkins Library. NFB-NEWSLINE® is an audio information service for the blind that is free of charge, easy to use, and requires no special equipment. If a person can operate a touchtone telephone, that person can access NFB-NEWSLINE®.

Dr. David Ticchi, a senior citizen and retired blind schoolteacher who lives in Cambridge, MA, said of NFB-NEWSLINE®: “This service has everything I need in terms of news and information. It’s available to me whenever I want or need it, and it is very easy to use. I personally prefer to use my regular touchtone telephone. With NFB-NEWSLINE®, it’s easy for any blind or print-disabled person to keep up to date and informed. You can just dial in and all the news, from sports to business to the obituaries, is at your fingertips.”

Amy Ruell, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts, said: “The blind of Massachusetts have spoken. There are a number of free and low-cost information programs available to blind people in Massachusetts. These include the Perkins Library's service, Bookshare, and NFB-NEWSLINE®, which provides access to nearly four hundred newspapers and over forty magazines, including twelve Massachusetts newspapers. Given that fact, Commissioner Saner’s plan to refocus the limited resources of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind on employment and training is entirely proper. We are dismayed to learn that some legislators in Massachusetts are setting aside the direct input of blind citizens to support a position put forward by a group that, however well-intentioned, does not speak for us.”

NFB-NEWSLINE® offers nine national newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today; twelve breaking news sources such as CNN, BBC, and ESPN Online; fourteen international papers including Financial Times and Vancouver Sun; forty-three magazines like Family Circle, Time, and Smithsonian; and more. NFB-NEWSLINE® currently carries the entire content, excluding advertising, of twelve Massachusetts newspapers: the Berkshire Eagle, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Cape Cod Times, Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise, Lowell Sun, Nashoba Publishing, Patriot Ledger, Springfield Republican, Watertown Tab and Press, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. There are local channels as well, which carry information from the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, NFB of Massachusetts, Carroll Center for the Blind, and the Perkins Library, as well as other local entities. (For a full list of participating publications, visit https://nfb.org/participating-newspapers.) In addition to news content, NFB-NEWSLINE® provides access to localized emergency weather alerts, job listings tailored to the user’s skills and preferences, selected advertising circulars, and localized television listings.

NFB-NEWSLINE® can be accessed in a variety of ways, including via touch-tone telephone, on the computer via an accessible website or emailed content, by using commercial or specialized MP3 and Talking Book players, or with an iPhone or iPad. Subscribers can read NFB-NEWSLINE® content anytime, using text-to-speech, magnification, or Braille. NFB-NEWSLINE® is also the only service of its kind accessible to the deaf-blind. Because NFB-NEWSLINE® can be accessed using a connected Braille display, deaf- blind people in Massachusetts can also access all of its news and emergency information.

To learn more about NFB-NEWSLINE® and how you can sign up, visit http://www.nfbnewsline.org, or call (866)504-7300.

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Chris Danielsen
National Federation of the Blind
+1 (410) 659-9314 Ext: 2330
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