Barbara Macpherson used to have perfect vision, but she became legally blind in 2000 due to a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, or RP.

She now serves as the president of the Tucson Society of the Blind, an organization that supports visually impaired people.

Macpherson is also a regular listener of Sun Sounds of Arizona. It’s a 24/7 radio service, headquartered in Tempe, that produces content for people who can’t see written or visual content well.

Sun Sounds’ Tucson station celebrated 40 years of service this year.

“I can use Sun Sounds on my Echo Dot speaker,” she said. “It’s so nice to have human narrators reading all the stories.”

Sun Sounds reads everything from local and national news to Westerns and short stories even grocery ads.

But Macpherson’s favorite is the film narrations. She said she’s looking forward to the Polar Express cast on Friday.

Between the dialogue, it tells me where the person is, what theyre doing, what their expression is,” she explained. “So, its just like being in the middle of a movie.

Sun Sounds can be accessed via closed-circuit radio and on apps like Simple Radio for live streams. People can also catch up on previous recordings on the website.

All content is read by volunteers. Right now there are 35 who regularly participate and they could use more.

“We are little bit more than half of what we had pre-pandemic. And…since we opened the studios again, we’re up probably 20,” said Murry Everson, the Tucson station manager.

Everson who has a blind daughter has worked for Sun Sounds for over 20 years.

He said he quit his UPS job and entered this field to connect with her better, and support organizations aimed at aiding people with similar conditions.

“Yes, we have Audible where you can download a recreational book, or you can go to the library and get the Libby app,” said Penny Rosenblum, a former University of Arizona professor who specializes in the visual impairment field.

“But the Libby app isnt going to read you the local newspaper like Sun Sounds is.

Rosenblum was born with congenital cataracts which were removed in her late 20s. She now uses intraocular implants to see and scope glasses for up-close reading.

She’s referred many of her clients to Sun Sounds.

The world doesn’t have to stop when you cant read print,” Rosenblum said. “You find out, ‘Hey, I have to do it in a little bit different way. Im gonna have to listen rather than read with my eyes.’