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The Lions Telephone Reader is a telephone/ computer system which allows a person to read the Kansas City Star, TV Guide magazine, the Topeka Capital Journal, and the Audio-Reader Program Guide using a touch-tone phone. Every day, Audio-Reader volunteers record the Star (Johnson County edition) on the computer. The Topeka Capital Journal is recorded as a computer file, and is read back by a DECtalk speech synthesizer. Users then play back these newspapers and listen at their convenience.

Telephone Reader was funded by the Lions Clubs of Kansas District 17-AE (now part of District 17-K7). The Kansas City Star provides the newspapers used for daily recording. Toll-free lines are provided to serve this area. The service is provided on the internet, to allow free access to subscribers beyond the range of the toll-free lines.

How does it work?

The voice recordings are stored in a computer, and played back on the telephone. Using the buttons on the phone, the users can speed up or slow down the reading, move forward or backward, skip or repeat sections, adjust the volume, and go directly to whichever part of the newspaper they like. Users may call at any time, day or night.

Can I try it right now?

Sure. In Lawrence (area code 785), call 864.7474. Elsewhere, use the toll-free number, 1.800.335.1221. Enter the DEMO code, 5887. (That's K U T R on the phone buttons.) You'll have 6 minutes to listen to any of the publications.

What does it cost to use Telephone Reader?

There is no charge. Any person who cannot read normal printed materials because of vision problems or other disability is eligible to use the service.

The user will need a touch-tone telephone. You do not have to have touch-tone service from the phone company to use a touch-tone phone on Telephone Reader. Most phones allow the user to switch back and forth between tone and pulse dialing.

A speakerphone is recommended for comfortable listening. Available at discount and electronic stores, costs vary from about $15 to $75. A headset telephone can provide both comfortable listening and privacy, and should cost between about $30 and $75. Many cordless telephones allow the user to plug in a standard telephone headset, which can be purchased for around $5 to $30. Specialty telephones can make extended listening more comfortable and convenient, but are not necessary; any touch-tone telephone can be used to listen to Telephone Reader.

How do I subscribe?

Call the Kansas Audio-Reader Network between 8 and 5 central time, or write or fax. We'll send you an application, or you can download the application and print it yourself. We must have a signature from a social worker, doctor, or other medical professional, providing certification of the disability that makes it difficult or impossible for you to read printed newspapers.

Once we have received your application, we will assign you your own personal access numbers. Your numbers will be activated in the computer immediately, and you will be able to use Telephone Reader.

Telephone Reader Touch-Tone Commands:

(Synthesized speech commands in italics)

  • 1 RESTART article or hour
  • 2 NEXT article or hour
  • 3 BACK 10 seconds / 1 sentence
  • 4 FORWARD 10 seconds / 1 sentence
  • 5 HELP
  • 6 SKIP TO LAST article in category
  • 7 SPEED, 3 faster speeds, 1 slower
  • 8 VOLUME, louder, back to normal
  • 9 PAUSE / Extended Functions

Extended Functions:

  • 1 BACK 1 WORD, with word count
  • 3 FORWARD 1 WORD, with word count
  • 7 CHANGE VOICE (8 DEC-Talk voices)
  • 8 RETURN TO ARTICLE, normal mode
  • 9 PAUSE

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February 6, 2004 © Audio-Reader, the University of Kansas

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