IRIS digital radio service for print-handicapped launches in Perth

A new digital Radio service for the Print Handicapped (RPH) has been launched in Perth, returning radio reading services to those in the community with a print disability.

The service, called IRIS Perth, is part of a suite of free-to-access Perth community digital radio services. IRIS, is restoring a radio reading service for the local blind and low vision community.

RPH is a radio reading service of popular news publications, providing people who are blind or have low vision access to the same political and cultural information the rest of the community takes for granted. IRIS Perth will offer a range of interesting and informative programs including readings from newspapers, magazines, books, and interviews.

IRIS is managed by Vision Australia in partnership with local Indigenous community radio station Noongar Radio. This collaboration to restore this digital radio service reflects the high level of support for the RPH service in Perth, and the increasing listenership of local DAB+ radio services with 24% of radio listening now occuring via DAB+ services.

Adrian Basso, President of the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia had this to say about the launch:

“This collaboration shows the goodwill of a number of community radio stations in Perth, not least Noongar Radio, towards re-establishing this fundamental broadcasting service. This is what community radio does well: collaborate, innovate and address the needs of the community”

“Using the digital spectrum means Perth has a wide coverage, good quality and free-to-receive RPH service now and in to the future. 24% of all radio listening now occurs via digital radio, with some services already at over 30%. 

 “Perth listeners rejoin the other capital cities with digital access to RPH services. RPH is a keystone service on digital broadcasting.”

“Federal Government funding and support for existing metropolitan digital radio services enables stations to provide unique services and a voice for communities not represented by other media. IRIS supports the social, cultural and political engagement of the large proportion of the community who are blind or have low-vision.” 

 “RPH services are so critical for those who for whatever reason aren’t able to access print media, and demonstrate the role of community broadcasting as a key pillar in our media landscape and vital presence on the future facing DAB+ digital radio platform.”

Former Federal Minister for Communications Tony Staley, who first introduced RPH services in Australia in 1978, had this to say in support of the service:

“It’s important to see this valuable service re-established for the Perth community on digital radio. It demonstrates the capacity of the community broadcasting sector to work together to provide a diverse range of digital radio services in capital cities, and the support of the Federal Government to ensure community radio is part of the ongoing development of digital radio”. 

Manager of the Vision Australia Radio Network, Hans Reimer, said the partnership between Noongar Radio and the local steering group, along with support from the Digital Radio Project at the CBAA, has meant that Vision Australia can provide the Perth community with a restored RPH service:

“Vision Australia now provides radio services in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth, as well as across Victoria and southern NSW. Other RPH services are available in capital cities and major regional areas around Australia.” 

“We’re excited that digital radio has allowed us to move quickly, and it bodes well for the future of RPH services that we’ve been acknowledged as a cornerstone of this increasingly important broadcasting technology.”

Station Manager at Noongar Radio, Wayne Bynder, said that while the radio reading service is for the whole community, it has particular importance for Aboriginal communities as well:

“Aboriginal communities are over-represented with vision impairment. There is six times more blindness and nearly three times more vision loss when compared to non-Aboriginal adults. The partnership for the IRIS digital service is important for our communities.”

Almost 5 million Australians live with a print disability. Vision Australia is a leading national provider of blindness and low vision services in Australia, working in partnership with Australians who are blind or have low vision to help them achieve the possibilities they choose in life.

More information about the service can be found here.

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