Empowering the Blind Community: Matt’s Journey as AINC’s Listener Services Coordinator
Matt began volunteering for AINC in 2010, but his inspiration for volunteering began much earlier. During his second semester of college he had an internship for Chicago Land Radio Information Service, which was also an audio information service for the blind. He wrote their newsletter for three or four months. Thirty years later- after working in journalism, retail, and as a UPS driver- he found himself in Colorado, underemployed and looking for volunteer opportunities, when he stumbled upon AINC.
He started as a volunteer, helping the former Director of Volunteers reach out to listeners as well as record information about AINC listeners in a database. In 2016, he was promoted to a full-time staff position as coordinator of listener services.
Matt’s job is to act as a sort of liaison to listeners: he registers listeners, ensures their audio equipment is working right, and manages the data about them. Currently, AINC has 1,500 listeners throughout the entire state, and it is Matt’s job to stay in constant contact with them.
In the past, Matt has interviewed various listeners to write profiles about them for AINC’s blog and newsletter. He believes that getting listener stories is a part of listener services. In fact, he’s even considered the idea that AINC could one day put out a book dedicated to telling listener stories.
“I’m a people person. I have a journalism degree and, and one of the things, you know, that, that helped me a lot in that area. I knew people, I was always interested in, people.”
Matt’s day-to-day activities involve helping listeners set up or troubleshoot the equipment that AINC provides. While in 2020, he had to help listeners remotely, he is now able to go and help them in person. Since AINC primarily provides free Echo Dots, Matt is often confused for “the Amazon guy.” Despite this, Matt enjoys this part of his job.
“I like to meet people in person. And, and that’s where you really get to know people. It’s really hard to get to know somebody over the phone… I’ve met so many listeners who I thought were cranky on the phone… and then met them in person and, and they’re all wonderful persons, and not like that at all.”
AINC’s mission is to provide news and information in audio format for the blind and low vision community of Colorado; this often involves utilizing technology that can sometimes alienate older listeners. Matt ensures that all listeners can understand, set up and use AINC’s technology.
By Kaatje Vanderberg