New Audio Service To Help Students Challenged by Reading; Innovative Pilot is First in Nation

As students across the state return to begin a new academic year, the Connecticut Radio Information System (CRIS) is launching a first-of-its-kind service for schools, providing instant access to audio versions of educational materials, the Common Core State Standard text exemplars, and children’s magazines on any mobile device, including tablets, smartphones, and MP3 players, or computers with Internet access.

CRISKids™ For Schools is geared for students who are visually impaired or are print-challenged for any reason including a learning, physical, intellectual or emotional disability. The new service also provides custom recordings to fit the needs of the students.cris-logo

Nearly a dozen schools have signed up to participate in the pilot of CRISKids For Schools.  Student outcomes will be submitted for evaluation by the U.S. Department of Education.  CRISKids For Schools is the only extensive line-up of audio versions of children’s magazines, educational materials and the Common Core State Standards featuring human narration in the nation.

Early results of the new initiative have been impressive, officials say, noting that teachers report that students participating in the CRISKids pilot are reading and enjoying it more. Megan O’Brien, a Grade 5 teacher at Clover Street School in Windsor, has noticed a transformation with her reluctant Grade 5 readers since using MP3 players downloaded with CRISKids.

“They think it’saudio board awesome,” she said, noting that the students are far more motivated to read now with the help of CRISKids.

Support for CRISKids for Schools comes from the generous funding of several foundations, including Help for the Blind of Eastern Connecticut, Fund for Greater Hartford, The Gibney Family Foundation, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

The Connecticut Radio Information System is Connecticut's only radio reading service, and is registered with the state of Connecticut as a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. CRIS broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from a broadcast center in Windsor, and regional satellite studios in Danbury, Norwich, Trumbull, and West Haven.

The programs broadcast on CRIS Radio are available to individuals who, because of vision loss, learning disability or physical handicap, are unable to read printed material.   CRIS Radio's live programming is provided free of charge and is available on specially tuned radios (provided free), cable providers, your telephone and online.  In addition, in recent years CRIS has become available on an iPhone, iPad/tablet, Internet radio or downloaded onto an iPod/MP3 player.

Earlier this year, the organization launched CRISKids™ Magazines, which provides audio versions of more than a dozen children’s magazines, and brought the initiative directly to children’s hospital beds.  In another first-in-the-nation initiative, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center teamed with CRIS Radio to offer the audio service to their patients  unable to turn the pages of magazines due to their medical condition or while receiving treatment.