New app for blind has more programming; South Shore nonprofit says station a ‘lifeline’

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MARSHFIELD – The Talking Information Center, which broadcasts the content of more than 300 publications over a radio station so those who are visually impaired have access to printed news and information, has updated its mobile app to fit the growing needs of its audience.

“We are constantly evolving, just like technology is, and we always want to provide accessible ways for our listeners to obtain our programming,” said Operations Assistant Elizabeth Collins.

Collins said the old app was outdated, and the new version offers more than just live streaming. Before, listeners could only hear what was being broadcast live on the radio, but now listeners can also listen to their favorite programs using an on-demand feature at a later time. Users can send an email or call the Talking Information Center directly within the application.

Anna Dunbar, executive director of the Talking Information Center in Marshfield, shows the nonprofit's new mobile app Monday, Feb.  27, 2023.

Anna Dunbar, executive director of the Talking Information Center in Marshfield, shows the nonprofit’s new mobile app Monday, Feb. 27, 2023.

There are multiple ways to tune in to the Talking Information Center’s radio station, including over a phone, via a specially tuned radio receiver, on Amazon Alexa and Google Home, and through the app and the website. The non-profit service produces and broadcasts more than 322 programs per week. Over 30,000 people in Massachusetts listened to the station, and listeners from more than 100 countries also tuned in.

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Programs include the reading of 156 community newspapers, more than 80 magazines, New York Times best selling books, medical and stock market updates, job listings and sports. The Talking Information Center also offers drama, theater and poetry, as well as concerts, conferences and meetings of support groups.

“Most of our listeners unfortunately are homebound, so we like to bring some form of entertainment to them,” Collins said.

The station broadcasts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Collins said the station provides an essential “lifeline” service. A lot of the listeners are isolated and lonely, he said, and some don’t have access to a computer or don’t have any other way of obtaining information besides the Talking Information Center’s radio station.

The new Talking Information Center mobile app.

The new Talking Information Center mobile app.

“All of our programming, because of the volunteers, is a human voice, so we hear from listeners saying, ‘It feels like there’s someone in the room with me,’ or, ‘I feel like there’s a friend here,’” Collins said. “They are informed and can know what’s happening in their own community.”

Reach Joel Barnes at [email protected].

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This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Talking Information Center upgrades mobile app for the visually impaired

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