Saturday, May 29, 2010

Get your news how you want it from NFB Newsline

Fifteen years ago, I was still pretty newly blinded, and going to college, but this was before I was using a computer, much less understanding all the wonders of this fabulously interconnected world wide web. At that time, my options for getting news were the television and radio, or having somebody read the newspaper to me. Then, the
National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
Came along with a nifty, dial-up feature for getting news over the phone called
NFB Newsline.

The concept for NFB Newsline was simple—have the text of the latest and current issues of some newspapers available to be read by a screen reader over the phone. I believe there were initially only four newspapers available as options. The NFB sought out co-sponsors in the various states, and had people who were blind submit documentation verifying their visual disability to become enrolled into the program. Approved users wer issued an identification number and password. With that, the user could then call the nearest number they offered and, by using phone button presses as commands, have any of the newspapers read with a screen over the phone. Navigation and personal options, such as reading speed and voices, were easy to learn and manage. They presented the news like you would normally read the newspaper— first by section, then by headlines, and you enter on the story whose headline interested you. Just like a sighted person does with a newspaper. It was an ideal way to get news and I loved it.

Than along came my first computer with a screen reader, and the internet, and more news and information than I ever got over the phone on NFB Newsline. To be honest, I pretty much forgot about this fine service that had filled the news void in my life for a period.

Time moves on and along the way, I’ve kept up with different technologies, including portable digital talking book players. And, leave it to NFB Newsline to figure more ways to make news relevant. They have continued to evolve what they offer.

Today, for those who prefer to listen to news over the phone, there is still NFB Newsline. If interested in this, you can call 1-866-504-7300 for more information.

One really neat feature is that you can find the television listings for your area.

However, there is also
NFB Newsline Online,
A more robust, richer service than ever before. Users can log in and read the news online. No, I’m not running for office with the NFB, but what they have become today is a much more inclusive service, setting out to meet the changing needs of their consumers.

What’s more, users today have access to not just the small handful of newspapers they initially began with. Far from it. There are more than 300 newspapers available to read. And, if that’s not enough information for you, there are also magazines, both state and national, there, too. For me, Texas Monthly was a great find to discover.

And, if you prefer, they will also email your newspapers and magazines to you.

However, understanding that we are in a mobile society with access to these great digital book players, they have also further adapted NFB Newsline to go with you. You can download the newspapers and magazines with a quick transfer to your device. I was really impressed at how fast and well the NFB Newsline software connected and transferred my subscriptions.

From the NFB Newsline Online web site:

Would you like a newspaper with your morning cup of coffee? NFB-NEWSLINE® just added its 300th publication AND it's still growing. Five Spanish-language newspapers are now available to all subscribers. The service handles thousands of phone calls each day for individuals across the country who now access daily newspapers and magazines as never before. The toll-free centralized call-in center provides service on demand to any subscriber. This also enables those who cannot read conventional print to have access to all content offered on NFB-NEWSLINE® when traveling throughout the United States twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Every day, a subscriber can choose that day's, the previous day's, or the previous Sunday's issue of any newspaper in the service. On NFB-NEWSLINE®, the user can easily choose which newspaper, section, and article to read using a standard touch-tone telephone. The menu provided allows the user to change the speed and voice settings, spell out words, or search for a particular word or subject.

Arts and culture, science, health, national and international news are available on NFB-NEWSLINE® through magazines. Just press Option 7.

So, if you want your news, you can get it. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see it. Also, you don’t have to be able to use a computer to get it, nor a digital book player, but if you do use either of these, they are additional ways to get your news with NFB Newsline.

Kudos to NFB Newsline for adapting with changing technologies.

1 comment:

Jeff Bertolucci said...

Hi Ron,

My name is Jeff Bertolucci and I’m a contributing writer for Kiplinger’s Retirement Report. I’m working on an article about products for people who are visually impaired.

I just listened to your audio review of iBill, and I was wondering if you have a few free minutes for a phone interview to discuss the ibill, and perhaps other products you think are useful for visually impaired people.

Thanks for your time.

Jeff Bertolucci
Kiplinger’s Retirement Report
bertolucci at sbcglobal . net