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Spring/ Summer 2008 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Excerpt from ReadThisToMe.org

Abstract: This article describes a free service that allows blind and visually impaired people to have printed documents read to them over the telephone.

Key Words: blindness, visual impairment, free reading service

ReadThisToMe is a free reading service for blind and low-vision people, powered by volunteers and Internet collaboration.

ReadThisToMe allows blind and low-vision people (clients) to have printed documents read to them over the phone. All a person needs is a phone line and a fax machine (no computer is required.) Here’s how it works:

  1. The client faxes the document to be read to the ReadThisToMe toll-free fax number: 1-877-333-8848. The first page of the fax needs to be a cover page that includes the client’s first name and callback (voice) phone number. The document itself can be just about anything: a handwritten letter, a bill, a can of food, a multi-page magazine article -- just about anything that can be faxed.
  2. One of ReadThisToMe’s volunteer readers will call the client back—usually within an hour—and read the document.
  3. That’s it!

The service is available throughout the U.S. and Canada and is absolutely free (though donations are gladly accepted).

Because the reading is done by people, this service can handle documents that electronic reading hardware and software cannot, such as handwritten documents, documents with complex graphics, etc. The cost of entry is just a phone line and a fax machine. A flatbed fax machine is slightly more expensive but can be more versatile, allowing clients to fax pages from books, food containers, and other thicker items.)

ReadThisToMe needs more volunteer readers: all volunteers need are a few minutes a day and willingness to make a long-distance phone call. More info about volunteering.

The service was created and is maintained by Savetz Publishing. Businesses that wish to help sponsor ReadThisToMe can send e-mail to info @ readthistome.org . Sponsors and other friends of Read This To Me are listed here.