Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Two Great Options to Get All Your News in One Place

There are some people who only get their news from the TV or radio, and then there are news junkies like me who want access to as much news as I can handle. When I say “news” I mean everything from what’s happening in my local community to the latest and greatest tech gadget. Before the iPhone, getting the news meant visiting a lot of websites and trying to navigate them. Now, I instead have two apps that get me all the news I could want. For all your news in one place, look no further then NFB Newsline and Earl.

These two applications are similar, but very different in their execution. For those that don’t know, NFB NewsLine is a service provided by the National Federation of the Blind. For many years this service was done exclusively over the phone. Now, though, you can access NewsLine on the web or even your iPhone. If you don’t already have access to NewsLine, visit this link to learn more information and to fill out an application to subscribe to the service: https://nfb.org/audio-newspaper-service

The NFB NewsLine app is very easy to navigate and gives you access to hundreds of newspapers and magazines. Reading through articles is effortless once you know how to use the app, and you can add and remove newspapers simply by visiting your settings. If there is a newspaper that you want that they don’t have, simply send an email to nfbnewsline@nfb.org to see if they can add it into their catalog. The Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind is also available through NFB NewsLine.

NewsLine is a great app, but if you want a different experience for reading your news, try out a new app called “Earl.” This app uses high quality text-to-speech and your voice to have the news read to you. Unlike NewsLine, this app can be used by anyone sighted or not. The app starts out with a simple tutorial that goes over how to talk to Earl, how to add newspapers, and how to access your news. The app also comes with a set of extra gestures for users who want to move through the app more quickly. Finally, since the app does not use VoiceOver, you have a choice of 5 high quality voices for listening to your news that may seem more pleasant than the offerings from VoiceOver.

My impression of Earl is that it provides a great alternative for reading the news. You don’t need to be a VoiceOver user to enjoy using it, and it provides access to hundreds of newspapers and magazines. It even has smaller town newspapers that you may not be able to find anywhere else. As with NewsLine, if you find that your local paper or a newspaper that you like to read is not in Earl, send an email to support@EarlSpeech.com and they’ll do what they can to add what you’ve requested.

It should be noted that Earl can be used for free to read three articles each day. If you’re happy with the experience and want to have access to as many articles as you want, you can subscribe for a monthly charge of $9.99 or a yearly subscription of $99. NewsLine is free to use for anyone who is visually impaired.

Do any of you use the NFB NewsLine or Earl app? Give us your impressions in the Reader’s Forum.

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