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Our Development Story

Almost one and a half million Americans are legally blind, and of those, over 90% do not read Braille. Over 100 reading services across the country service those who cannot read by reading and audio-casting print news and entertainment not available through other audio services, such as television or radio. They read things most sighted individuals take for granted, such as newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, obituaries, books, etc. Most reading services are non-profits; volunteer staffed and servicing their local community or their entire state. For more information on reading services visit the International Association of Information Services (IAAIS).

Traditionally, these non-profit reading services have broadcast their services using a low frequency FM signal or SAP TV signal, and they have provided their listeners with donation funded SCA radios or SAP receivers. These technologies provide(d) adequate, but low grade audio to an audience that deserves the best quality audio possible.

In 2009, the FCC mandated that TV broadcasters stop broadcasting in analog and start broadcasting in digital. The loss of the analog signal resulted in the loss of SAP technology, which was being used by reading services to reach their blind and visually impaired listeners. The change left thousands of listeners across the country without essential news services.

The Audio Information Network of Colorado (AINC) and Rocky Mountain PBS anticipated the impact that this loss of service would have on their Colorado community, and contacted Neil Bank of NBCI-CEPD, LLC to develop a simple to use receiver for the blind that would work off the new, free over-the-air digital (ATSC) signal.

Funding for the development of the receiver was provided by the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  This new digital receiver, the Digital Reading Service Receiver (RRS1100), was custom tailored to fit the special needs of reading services and their blind and visually impaired listeners. 

Click here to listen to an NPR story about our receiver.

Today, all reading services are feeling the negative impact of the recession. Many have had to shut down due to loss of funding. The rest are struggling to broadcast their services in light of new challenges, including interference from HD radio. Many are relying solely on internet to reach their listeners. We believe that internet and sideband radio are insufficient ways to serve this audience. The most obvious reasons are that the majority of listeners are not online because they cannot afford or use the internet and sideband radio does not offer sufficient quality sound.

Our Digital Reading Service Receiver (RRS1100) is a long-term, affordable solution that is easy to use, with a signal that is free and accessible to all listeners. Currently our receiver is being used in Colorado, Texas, Iowa and New Jersey.

Click here to listen: How the RRS1100, Collaboration and Ingenuity Helped Iowa Form an All State Service - IAAIS 2011

To learn more about the development of the Digital Reading Service Receiver (RRS1100), please contact us at 303-494-3700 or contact@RRS1100.com.