Statewide Service Radios the News to the Visually Impaired
By Stephanie A. Wilken, Sun Staff Writer
Yuma, Arizona | Published: April 17, 2009
What would you do if you couldn't read the news every morning or your favorite book on a Sunday afternoon?
Sun Sounds of Arizona is a radio reading and information access service that helps Arizonans who are blind, visually impaired and print disabled to keep up with The Sun, Bajo El Sol and local grocery ads as well 125 other magazines and periodicals. The group provides special radios for participants to listen 24 hours a day at no charge.
"I believe that it's a life-changing kind of program for people who have to depend on other people to get their information," said Diana Barbee, Yuma coordinator for Sun Sounds. "This way they can be more independent and they'll have more control over what they listen to.
With 500 volunteers statewide and 49,000 listeners on an average day, the service is a popular one.
The signal comes through the radio, which is free for participants after qualifying. The signal originates in Tempe then is transmitted through KTTI 95.1 and Channel 70 in Yuma. People can also listen online at www.sunsounds.org.
Barbee said the organization is trying to raise money to get a studio in Yuma. She said they're hoping to receive a land donation or space at a local radio station so that they can break away from the Tempe programing and do more locally.
More local events and announcements such as obituaries and other local information would be very beneficial, Barbee said.
"People just want to know what's going on in their community."
Since February, Barbee's handed out 15 radios in the Yuma area, and she said people know about the program mostly through word of mouth.
But she hopes to continue with community outreach such as visiting assisted living centers and getting more people interested in listening to Sun Sounds.
"I have big plans," she said.
And for Barbee, it's important to help connect people to what's going on in the world. "It's unique and innovative and everything I enjoy being a part of."
For more information about Sun Sounds of Arizona in the Yuma area, visit www.sunsounds.org or contact Barbee at diana.barbee@riomai .maricopa.edu, or call 329-6681, Ext. 20.
Stephanie A. Wilken can be reached at email@example.com