The only facility of its kind in Minnesota, the Communication Center began in 1953 as a public/private partnership with the State of Minnesota providing braille and audio transcription services.
Since 1969, it includes a radio reading service of books, magazines and daily newspapers. And, since the 1980s, daily newspapers are available via a touch-tone telephone.
More recently, the Newsline Services (through the National Federation for the Blind) makes national and international news sources available by phone, web and smartphone app.
Initial funding came from the Hamm Foundation of St. Paul, and services were extended by grants from other family and corporate foundations, public funds and individual gifts.
The Radio Talking Book went on the air in 1969 through the continuing support of the Hamm Foundation and cooperative agreements with Minnesota Public Radio.
The Minnesota Legislature passed legislation in 1979 that made the Communication Center part of Minnesota State Services for the Blind. The change allowed the Communication Center to receive additional state and federal funding.
Dial-In News was established in 1990 to provide access to local newspapers through the use of a touch-tone phone. Newsline for the Blind, a service of the National Federation of the Blind providing national newspapers, came to Minnesota in 1996. SSB began providing financial support for Newsline in 1998 and in 1999 took over responsibility for running the local service center. In March, 2002, NFB/Newsline became available to all blind and visually impaired Minnesotans via a nationwide, toll-free number.
Private funding also assists in providing services to blind and print-disabled individuals throughout the state. You can help support us by with a donation or by volunteering. Read more about how to help.
Communication Center Annual Report
Apply to receive any or all of our services including the Radio Talking Book, transcription services, the NFB Newsline, and books and materials from the National Library Service by filling out this application form.
The form gives information on visual and physical disabilities required for eligibility.