For some who are born blind or are losing their sight with age, it could mean increased isolation. The latest New Yorker of the Week is using the power of the human voice to connect them to the world. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
When Elinor Cohen tunes in to "Gatewave," she learns about the world around her.
Cohen started losing her sight 10 years ago, but through this reading service, she feels empowered.
"In the beginning, I was really quite devastated. It's very frightening. 'Am I going to give up everything I love to do? No, I'm not,'" she says. "And then you find that there's services to help you and all kinds of wonderful people."
People like Gordon Rothman. From his Brooklyn home, he runs "Gatewave." The nonprofit delivers readings from the latest newspapers and magazines.
"We really are making a difference in their lives, that we're making them feel connected, and I think that's just such a powerful thing," Rothman says. "We have the opportunity to give people options."
Gatewave is on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It helps listeners feel informed, independent and inspired.
"We're very much aware of how lonely life can be without the ability to sit and read and hold a book," says volunteer Les Marshak. "The human voice being a very powerful instrument is something that we take for granted."
"We think that no one should be shut out of their connection to their world or their community because of a physical limitation," Rothman says. "If we have the opportunity to help level the playing field, then we're doing our job."
Gordon's team of volunteers have been on the job since 2009. You can now hear Gatewave on the Internet, phone or closed-circuit radio.
"He's really in it to try and make a contribution to a population that is deserving of as much support as they can to make sure they can fit into their world," says John Robinson, who is visually impaired.
"When somebody like that comes into your life, it's so positive that it makes you feel that you'll be able to survive," Cohen says.
That's why Gordon Rothman is the latest New Yorker of the Week.
For more information, and to donate, visit gatewave.org.