ST. PAUL (June 5, 2013) — Minnesota Radio Talking Book is hosting the 2013 annual conference of the International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS) in Minneapolis this week.
The association, which provides audio information services for people who cannot read conventional print because of blindness or other visual, physical or learning disabilities, will meet at the Sheraton Minneapolis Midtown Hotel, 2901 Chicago Ave. S., on Thursday through Saturday, June 6-8.
Conference host Minnesota Radio Talking Book is managed by State Services for the Blind, a program within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) that helps people who are visually handicapped to live and work as independently as possible. Career training and help with starting businesses are among other services offered by the program.
“More than 20 million Americans have significant vision loss that limits their ability to use printed material,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “Thanks to the outstanding work of the association, visually impaired Americans and millions of other people around the world have equal access to information that is available to the general public.”
The IAAIS, formed in 1977, offers services to members in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Africa. Association volunteers provide personal reader programs; audio description services of live theater, museum exhibits, nature trails, parades, and other visual venues; audio transcription; taping services; or other audio-based community services.
The conference will include workshops on topics such as new technology, government regulations, managing volunteers and fundraising. Jonathan Odell, a Minneapolis novelist who has been active in civil rights and human resource development, will be the keynote speaker during the noon lunch on Friday.
Minnesota Radio Talking Book was a pioneer in providing services for the visually impaired, becoming the world’s first radio reading service when it was launched in Minnesota in 1969. The closed-circuit service features volunteers reading newspapers, magazines, books, short stories, poetry and other materials 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Today, about 120 similar services exist worldwide.
Stuart Holland, manager of Minnesota Radio Talking Book, is president of the IAAIS.