Talking Information Center helps connect visually impaired to the world around them

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By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer 


TIC Executive Director Anna Dunbar

Marshfield- Founded in June 1978, the Talking Information Center (TIC) is a nonprofit reading service for those who are blind and have low vision. This radio station broadcast of local news, articles and more helps its listeners with their independence. 

Anna Dunbar is TIC’s Executive Director. 

“We have five affiliates across the state, which ensures our signal. They include, Audio Journal in Worcester, the Lowell Association for the Blind, Lowell, the Berkshire Talking Chronicle in Pittsfield, Valley Eye Radio in Springfield and Audible Local Ledger in Mashpee,” she said. “We serve over 30,000 listeners across the state and even have listeners around the country and the globe.”

In addition, the Talking Information Center’s staff and volunteers read over 322 unique programs ranging from news in national papers, books, magazines, supermarket flyers and more.

“One of our most popular programs is dedicated to reading the grocery flyers.  If our feed cuts out during flyers, we get inundated with calls immediately. The more I thought about it, if you are someone that has low vision, and you are in the grocery store and you cannot read the sign that says what is on sale then how will you know what is discounted that day? This epitomizes the general perception or lack of knowledge about the low vision community. If you didn’t know someone struggling with a vision problem, you wouldn’t necessarily know their challenges and how best to help them live an autonomous life,” said Dunbar. 

Dunbar credits all of the wonderful volunteers who dedicate their time to come into the studio to read content on a daily basis. There are over 200 volunteers alone, in the Marshfield location. 

TIC volunteer Joan Dowd

“The volunteers take their role very seriously and we really value that,” she said.  

In trying to reach the population of people who would benefit from this service, the TIC does a lot of marketing and outreach and partners with the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, the Carroll Center in Newton and more. 

There are special radios programmed to TIC so once it is turned on, the listener will only hear what is programmed. This ensures a user- friendly experience for those with low vision and/or those who are blind. 

“There are so many ways one can listen to our programming. We try to find the best fit for the person wanting to listen. We have a radio that is WIFI connected with a stronger, clearer signal. For those without WIFI, we also have a traditional radio receiver with a radio. We try to find out a little bit about the person first so that we can help to set them up for success. We also have a free app on your cell phone. A newer way that people really seem to have taken to is using the Alexa and Google Home. There have been instances where we have actually offered to help set them up,” said Dunbar. 

TIC volunteer Paul Pesa

TIC is also available on 44 town cable stations as well. 

For more information call 781- 834-4400 or visit www.ticnetwork.org.

Photos/submitted