Voting can be a complicated process between the countless documents that need to be read and the huge decisions that will shape our future. Sun Sounds of Arizona aims to make those steps easier for voters with disabilities who need assistance.
Sun Sounds of Arizona, a radio reading service serving the state, has been making the voter guides in Arizona more accessible for at least the past 13 years! As a public service division of Rio Salado, they do this by providing the audio versions of the voter guides for those that are blind, have trouble holding print due to a disability or those who have trouble reading. Sun Sounds is part of the Public Service Division of Rio Salado College, which also includes public radio stations KJZZ 91.5FM and KBACH 89.5FM.
For the Secretary of State’s General Election Publicity Pamphlet and the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission voter education guide, Sun Sounds uses a text-to-speech translation program because of the complication of speeches and propositions that are more difficult to read due to their length.
Sun Sounds has been making print versions of newspapers and magazines available through audio translations to the blind and those who can’t read since 1979, for 41 years.
Andrea Pasquale, the director of Sun Sounds of Arizona said, “We read over 200 publications and we are one of the only places where people who cannot access print can get the local news.” Sun Sounds numbers 60 volunteers around the state that send in their audio recordings.
Sun Sounds works with organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona, Arizona Talking Books Library, Arizona Technology Assistance Program and more to promote the services they offer and spread the word on how they can assist those that may be hard of seeing or have difficulty holding print literature.
Despite a small team of three people this year, Sun Sounds was available for people who had no other way of hearing their voting options! One listener, Victor, said, "Without my sight, I didn't know how I was gonna vote..." And another listener, Andrew, said, "I have macular degeneration and was so happy that you have this set up for us to call and find out about the different propositions.”
Pasquale wants everyone to know that Sun Sounds of Arizona is a free service that can be accessed through “a special radio that we send free of charge, our website, smart home devices, and more.”
Sun Sounds also provides a variety of different programs, including an exercise program, children's program, and audio versions of national and local magazines and newspapers. The service also provides audio-described movies, including a new one every Friday at 6 p.m.
To find out more, please visit sunsounds.org.