By Mark Ambrogi
Once a month Wunji Lau reads The Indianapolis Star from cover to cover aloud.
Lau, who recently moved from Fishers to Carmel, is a volunteer for Indiana Reading & Information Services Radio, a free service from WFYI.
“It’s available for anyone who is blind, has a visual impairment, or Parkinson’s disease who might shake,” said Mandy Bishop, IRIS operations coordinator.
Lau has been volunteering with IRIS for nine years.
“I go in once a month and read the newspaper live for a couple of hours,” Lau said. “It’s essentially news anyone would read that morning. Some volunteers do it on a more frequent basis, but my schedule doesn’t allow more than once a month.”
Lau works for a Lafayette-based company, SeeWriteHear, which specializes in accessibility solutions.
“We make braille, large prints and accessible websites,” Lau said.
The broadcast is 24/7, 365 days a year.
“We have 100 volunteers who read from more than 150 publications,” Bishop said. “Every morning we do a live broadcast of The Indianapolis Star and replay it in the evening. The volunteers pre-record newspapers from each side of town. We do grocery ads and store ads. We have magazines such as National Geographic and Time. We have a food pantry listing.”
The volunteers read books as well.
Those who qualify receive a pre-tuned radio that only plays the IRIS station.
“Anyone can apply but the service is for those in Indiana,” Bishop said. “We have 40 miles radius from downtown for the radio signal. But people can log in and stream it from the Internet from anywhere in the world.”
The funding comes from donations.
“Our listeners don’t pay for the radios, everything is free of charge,” Bishop said.
Bishop said there are more than 3,000 registered users, mostly in Indianapolis area. IRIS started off in 1983 at Butler and moved to WFYI in the mid-1990s.
Bishop is seeking more volunteers for reading. She would set up an audition to read for any volunteers.
Bishop said if someone wants to volunteer or knows someone who can use this service, contact IRIS at 317-614-0404 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.