Connecticut Radio Information System (CRIS) “Makes Words Come Alive” for the Visually Impaired

For 43 years, CRIS Radio has been broadcasting print information, providing a crucial connection to the outside world for individuals who are blind or print-challenged.

CHRIS Radio board members Gail Lebert (second from right) and Paul Young (far right) celebrate the launch of CRISAccess™ mobile app at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Photo Courtesy of CRIS Radio/Steve Laschever

For the past 43 years, Connecticut Radio Information System (CRIS Radio) has been broadcasting print information “that most of us take for granted — from sales flyers at local grocery stores to local obituaries,” says CRIS Radio Executive Director Diane Weaver Dunne.

CRIS Radio provides crucial connections to the outside world, as the only reading service in Connecticut providing audio recordings with human narration of printed materials to children and adults who are blind or printed-challenged due to any disability that makes it difficult or impossible for them to read print materials.

While CRIS Radio’s mission is to provide access to print information for people who are blind or visually impaired, the organization also serves individuals with other print disabilities, such as dyslexia and learning disabilities, as well as those who experience physical difficulties, including Parkinson’s disease and Cerebral Palsy.

Learn more about and support Connecticut Radio Information System (CRIS Radio).

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Thanks to a handful of funds established decades ago in which Community Foundation donors state a preference that grants be made for the benefit of the visually impaired, a recent grant awarded to CRIS Radio will support services that enhance knowledge, reduce isolation and increase independence for the children and adults helped by CRIS, and will allow CRIS Radio to offer its services to an expanded number of people. (Learn More.)

“The Foundation’s support helps us make words come alive for individuals unable to read print materials due to blindness or other print challenges, providing access to the same information that our family, friends and colleagues enjoy.”

Dunne cites “embracing new technologies” as CRIS Radio’s key strategy for improving and expanding services, such as a streaming service in patients’ rooms at four acute care hospitals in Connecticut and providing students with learning disabilities and low vision with audio versions of classroom materials.

Another new technology launched by CRIS is the CRISAccess™ mobile app to be used for audio tours at museums like New Britain Museum of American Art (pictured) and outdoor public spaces.

“Our expansion with new technologies would not have been possible without the support of funders like The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven,” says Dunne.

Do you have a long-term interest in supporting local health care nonprofits or other causes you care about? Learn about charitable funds at The Community Foundation.