By: Jennifer Heartley

IRIS is a reading information service for the blind and print handicapped, which includes veterans who have been injured in the service and other disabilities as well.  I learned about it through my class J66 otherwise known as Media Responsibility.  Here at Drake University, this class has traditionally been helping with this group for several years.  IRIS is completely ran by two people who started it and all the volunteers they get to help them out.  Many people volunteer and read from their homes.

The class is divided into groups.  A different group will be responsible for reading each week.  A different member in the group is responsible for their assigned day of the week.  If students want to volunteer to help out more, they can bring in magazines of interest of any kind without putting any expiration date on the recording so that IRIS can use it to fill dead air whenever they wish.

Step-By-Step Process of recording for IRIS

There is a recording room in the basement of Meredith where students go to read and record for IRIS.  There is a website brought up on the screen that is an online newspaper of the Midwest that would interest the readers in that area.  IRIS reads for many different areas, but this is the website that J66 students read from.

Before the class was assigned to this project we had a discussion about whether or not certain people do or do not have the right to the news.  For example, just because they may be blind, does that mean they should be deprived of their own local newspaper?  The class decided “No” right off the bat.  Even if you’re not a journalism student, it would be hard to imagine anyone answering that any differently.

Tell me what you think of this program and what it means to the present and future of journalism.


3 responses to “IRIS

  1. I think this is a good and worthwhile program. Of course, journalists should help the public in any way they can.

    In a practical sense, practicing reading helps a writer develops their own voice. For all writers, it is advantageous to know how you read. This allows you to see how your voice takes shape. For broadcast journalists, they work on delivery, inflection, and fluency. This becomes vital practice at a skill they need to master. Since print journalists are increasingly producing videos for their publication’s websites, more and more journalists need these skills.

  2. Jennifer Heartley

    I have definitely been trying to improve my technology skills since coming to Drake. They’re decent, but not advanced by any means.

  3. I took this course a couple years ago, and I participated in IRIS. I think that it is a wonderful program and it definitely made me feel good to be helping out.

    It makes me wonder with digital becoming the way that people get their news–how this service will be affected. Will it adapt and provide those who need it, special computers or devices that will read them the online news?

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