September 22, 2015

CRIS Radio widens Mystic Aquarium access

Contributed photo
Contributed photo
CRIS Radio Executive Director Diane Weaver Dunne with Mystic Aquarium CEO Stephen Coan.

Windsor's nonprofit CRIS Radio and Mystic Aquarium announced Tuesday a pilot that offers visitors with low-vision or other print disabilities a new way to access print information displayed at the aquarium's exhibits.

The program, trademarked CRISAccess, is a pilot funded by the American Savings Foundation in New Britain.

CRISAccess offers instant audio versions of print information displayed at the Aquarium's exhibits through a visitor's personal smart phone that scans QR (Quick Response) Codes. The QR Codes link the phone to an audio version of an exhibit sign and an audio description of the exhibit, typically less than three-minutes.

CRIS volunteers provide narration for CRISAccess.

"CRIS Radio has been providing audio access and inclusion for people who are blind or print disabilities for 36 years with broadcasts of articles in newspapers and magazines," said Paul Young, treasurer of the CRIS Radio board of directors. "CRISAccess is an extension of our services for people with print disabilities."

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy hailed the initiative for enhancing Connecticut's growing tourism sector by making the aquarium accessible to a wider audience. Mystic Aquarium counts more than 700,000 visitors annually.

The goal is to provide visitors with disabilities with the same experience enjoyed by their friends, classmates and family, officials said.

"This program is exemplary of the types of service that make it possible for all our citizens to lead a good life — one full of all the activities and possibilities that other citizens experience," said Molly Cole, director of the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities.

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