Catholic Advance is available to the blind

An Audio Reader volunteer reads a magazine in one of the studios at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. (Courtesy photo)

Reader/Listener dinner April 25

A dinner for the volunteer readers and for those who listen to the Catholic Advance through the KU Audio Reader will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita. For reservations email Jessica Lopez at [email protected] or call 316-269-3900.

Want to apply for the Audio Reader service?

Audio Reader is a free service that provides audio versions of newspapers, magazines, store ads, books, and special requests for individuals with difficulty reading standard print. To apply for the service, visit or call Martha at 785-864-2900 or 800-772-8898.


The Ministry With Persons With Disabilities is making sure that virtually everyone in the Diocese of Wichita has access to the Catholic Advance.

The diocesan newspaper is available in print and via the internet – but it’s also available to the blind and those with visual impairments.

Jessica Lopez, the director of the ministry, said the Catholic Advance helps individuals and families stay abreast of the events in the diocese and the world.

Partnering with KU

“The Ministry with Persons with Disabilities believes that all persons should have access to this wonderful resource, which prompted a partnership with KU Audio Reader. The special aspect of this program is the community it creates,” she said.

“We would not be successful in our mission of inclusion without our wonderful volunteers. They take the time out of their week to record the stories over the phone from their homes to ensure all individuals have the opportunity to access the Catholic Advance. I am immensely proud to be a part of the community that has been created.”

Serves Kansas, Missouri

Martha Kehr said the Audio Reader Network is a free information service for those throughout Kansas and western Missouri who are blind, visually impaired, or print-disabled.

“That means someone with a visual disability, but also different physical abilities that would make it hard for them to hold a book or newspaper, and also print disabilities like dyslexia,” she said.

The service provides accessible audio editions of newspapers, magazines, grocery store ads, and special requests for anyone who has a print disability. The information is available by radio, over the internet, by telephone, and via smart speakers, 24 hours a day. Their services are free of charge to anyone unable to read standard printed material.

Kehr, the Communications and Listener Outreach Coordinator for Audio Reader, said the University of Kansas operation in Lawrence not only provides 24-hour broadcasts of news and information, it also has additional content available. “Our primary or most historical way of accessing the information is through a radio – a closed circuit radio – that we mail to listeners to tune into the 24-hour broadcast and then they follow along the program schedule,” she said.

Devices are free

The closed circuit radios are free after a listener has been approved to receive one. It is preset to the listener’s local radio tower receiver.

“For special requests like the Catholic Advance, we post those on podcast sites,” she said. “They’re available through our website and SoundCloud and iTunes and other podcast services.”

Kehr said Audio Reader services are available at their website or through an Amazon Alexa-enabled device. Another option, she said, is using an Amazon Echo Dot – again at no cost. She added an Echo Dot is more complicated but offers more flexibility and additional services.

“We also have a telephone reader service which is supported by various Lions Clubs throughout the state,” she said. “With the telephone reader service, they can call in and get directly to that publication and then skip ahead articles and listen over their phone. So it’s another great way to access it that’s not restrictive to radio signals or internet signals.”

Advance reader use telephone service

Most of the readers of the Catholic Advance use the telephone reader service, Kehr said.

Amazon’s Alexa is the fastest-growing option to access Audio Reader, she said, because it is so widely available. “You can just listen on demand. You’re not restricted by the program schedule. You can just go straight to that publication you want and then listen to it over whatever wifi you have available.”

Kehr said she didn’t know how many listeners they currently have but that the service sent over 2,000 radios and 50 Echo Dots to listeners last year in Kansas and Western Missouri, and about 1,000 who enabled the Audio Reader on their Alexa device. More than 250 volunteers read about 14,000 hours of content each year.

11,000 calls in 2022

In 2022 the Lions Telephone Reader Service logged over 11,000 calls with an average listening time of 25 minutes. About 4,500 visited the website.

All programs are archived for up to one year, she said, adding that an updated program guide is sent quarterly in braille, larger print, or email.

Kehr added that the service works with eye care professionals so that information about Audio Reader services can be shared with those who are diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy or other conditions resulting in loss of sight. Audio Reader also markets its services to eye doctor associations, senior resource agencies, and independent living services.