First-Of-Its-Kind Audio Service for Spanish-Speakers with Print Disabilities Launched in CT

CRIS Radio, a 36-year-old nonprofit based in Windsor and Connecticut’s only radio-reading service, has introduced its new Spanish-language streaming service, expanding the services offered by the volunteer-based organization with a longstanding, solid track-record of responsive programming. The service, called CRIS en Español, is the first in the nation to offer an extensive line-up of audio versions of Spanish-language magazines – all featuring human narration -- for Spanish-speakers who are blind or have a print disability, including those with learning, physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities.cris-logo

“This collaboration is essential to the people we serve in the Hispanic community,” said Annette Deonarine, director of Latino Initiative of Advocacy Unlimited at Toivo Center in Hartford. “It will enable people who are disabled to receive quality broadcasts that are culturally competent and in a language that is understood by many people from different Latino cultures.”

Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, who attended the launch of the new audio services, said: “CRIS Radio has for years made sure people stay connected to current events, culture and literature. I’m very grateful to see that they’re expanding this valuable service to Spanish-speaking audiences.”

Included in the CRIS en Español programming are articles published in Spanish-language magazines and newspapers such as Identidad, National Geographic in Spanish, Cosmopolitan in Spanish, Hola and People in Spanish.  All CRIS recordings feature human narration, thanks to CRIS volunteers who provide the voice talent. The recordings also are available on-demand at or from special CRIS Internet radios.

“Thanks to funding from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, CRIS Radio is launching Spanish-language programming to better meet the needs of the Latino community who are blind or print disabled,” said Diane Weaver Dunne, executive director of CRIS Radio. “CRIS is now providing Internet radios tuned to CRIS en Español’s URL free-of-charge to organizations that serve Spanish-speakers with disabilities.”Sitting, Diane Weaver Dunne and Pedro Segarro. Standing, from lieft, Annette Deonarine, Yanira Rios, Alice Diaz, Deron Drumm, Kelvin Young and Jon Jacobs.

CRIS (Connecticut Radio Information System) provides audio access to news and information for people who are blind or print-challenged, including those unable to read due to physical, learning, intellectual or emotional disabilities. CRIS operates with more than 300 volunteers at its broadcast center in Windsor and regional studios located in Danbury, Norwich, Trumbull, West Haven and at ESPN in Bristol.

Jon Jacobs, program director of Humanidad, which operates group homes for Spanish-speakers with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Greater Hartford, piloted the service at two group homes. “CRIS en Español is an impactful and informative service that brings Spanish-language programming right to the homes of our consumers, Jacobs said. “This is a warm, informative, and user-friendly way to bring culturally competent content to the members of our community with special needs.”

CRIS Radio broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week featuring articles published in more than 70 newspapers and magazines, including award-winning children's magazines available online and on-demand. Programs powered by CRIS Radio include: CRIS Radio; CRIS Listen Now (online streaming); CRIS Listen On Demand; CRISKids, and CRISKids for Schools.

Photo:  Attending the demonstration of CRIS en Español, are: (sitting), Diane Weaver Dunne, executive director of CRIS Radio; and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarro; Standing, from left, are Standing, from left, Annette Deonarine, Yanira Rios, Alice Diaz, Deron Drumm, Kelvin Young and Jon Jacobs.

First-in-Nation Audio Service for Hospitalized Children Launched in Connecticut

In what may be the first program of its kind in the nation, CRIS Radio and Connecticut Children's Medical Center are working together to offer children who are patients at the hospital a new way to pass their time while receiving medical treatment. Connecticut Children's patients may now listen to CRISKids, a service that provides audio versions of articles published in nearly 20 award-winning children's magazines, through the hospital's in-house television system.  The audio alternative to printed magazines - through an in-house system streamed to each patient TV – can be tremendously comforting for young patients unable to read or turn pages of a magazine due to their condition or medical treatment.

CRIS (Connecticut Radio Information System) is a 34-year-old nonprofit based in Windsor and is Connecticut's only radio-reading service providing audio access to news and information for people who are blind or print-handicapped, including those unable to read due to physical, learning, intellectual or emotional disabilities.

CRISKids, the only extensive line-up of audio versions of children's magazines in the nation and Canada, was launched in December 2011.  More than a dozen titles are available, mostly for children aged 4 to 15, including National Geographic for Kids, Science World, Ranger Rick,  Junior Scholastic, Sports Illustrated for Kids and Scholastic News. CRIS radio

CRIS Board Chairman William H. Austin said that the Board “is excited to form a partnership with Connecticut Children's and thankful for the funding support received to bring this project to life.  Comcast provided technical assistance and a donation of special equipment necessary for the project. Other funders of the project include the Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust, and the Ahearn Family Foundation.

"The availability of CRISKidsTM in patient rooms will allow children to enjoy educational entertainment, which is an extremely valuable offering and can be a helpful component of the healing process," said Martin J. Gavin, President and CEO of Connecticut Children's Medical Center.

The CRISKids initiative has received financial support from 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.

CRIS Radio records more than 70 newspapers and magazines to provide audio access to printed material for people who are blind and print-handicapped. The audio recordings can be heard with a special CRIS radio, toll-free through the CRIS Telephone Reader, online streaming live or on-demand at the CRIS Radio website,, or with any mobile device, including tablets or smartphones.  CRIS operates with nearly 350 volunteers at its broadcast center in Windsor and four satellite studios located in Danbury, Norwich, Trumbull and West Haven.  The CRISKids program is also available for individual subscription.

Connecticut Children's Medical Center is a nationally recognized, 187-bed not-for-profit children's hospital serving as the primary teaching hospital for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Named among the best in the nation for several of its pediatric specialties in the annual U.S. News & World Report "Best Children's Hospitals" rankings.