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Towson and NPR Labs collaborate to develop captioned radio

Ellyn Sheffield

Towson’s Ellyn Sheffield is working with NPR Labs and Latino USA to provide the first-ever captioned radio program.

A collaborative alliance between Towson University, NPR Labs and Latino USA has resulted in the latter becoming the first radio program to offer equal-access distribution of radio programming via visual captioning.

The captioned version of Latino USA, hosted by four-time Emmy award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa and distributed by NPR, will target audiences who are deaf and hard of hearing. The Futuro Media Group program is the longest running Latino-focused show on radio and is carried by more than 100 public radio stations. 

“Research has shown that Latino children have a higher incidence of hearing loss and deafness than other populations,” explained Hinojosa.

“When the opportunity to break this sound barrier came to our attention, we were pleased to embrace this new technology developed by NPR Labs and Towson University for the thousands of Latinos with serious hearing loss.”

The International Center for Accessible Radio Technology, or ICART, is a strategic alliance between NPR and Towson University co-directed by Mike Starling of NPR and Ellyn Sheffield of Towson University’s College of Liberal Arts.

“When we started out in 2007 to develop captioned radio technologies, we knew that many companies talk extensively about their commitments to innovation and inclusivity,” said the co-directors in a statement.

“This week, The Futuro Media Group and Latino USA have acted decisively to put their commitment into practice. We could not be more pleased to be working with the award-winning team that will now produce the first regular captioned radio program. Thanks to the vision at Latino USA, our new enterprise is being launched.”

Listeners can tune in online to the new captioned broadcast at 8 a.m., every Saturday.

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