Radio 1RPH vice-president Robert Altamore listens to his radio.
Radio 1RPH vice-president Robert Altamore listens to his radio. Photo: Jamila Toderas
While Robert Altamore's colleagues would start their working day with a newspaper, Mr Altamore would flick on Radio 1RPH.
The retired public servant, who has been blind since birth, became involved in the radio for print-handicapped movement as a university student in 1979 and helped to drive the establishment of the Canberra station in the early 1980s.
But now the station he helped to build is under threat, after it was revealed it will lose a quarter of its funding in July due to disability funding changes.
Print handicapped radio station, Radio 1RPH, is losing a quarter of its funding. 
The station will experience a $38,000 shortfall when its funding stream from Disability ACT is discontinued due to the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
While the NDIS has been seen as a godsend for many families, its funding model has left many organisations – which have provided free services to people with disabilities for many years – out in the cold, Radio 1RPH's management committee president Lorraine Litster said.
"When the NDIS came along we thought this may spell trouble for us because the NDIS is sort of a paying for service model, the intention is that the government gives money to disabled people and they go off and buy whatever services they need," she said.
"That is fair except there are a number of organisations providing services to disabled people that don't lend themselves to that kind of model."
Ms Litster said just $132 million of the federal government's $22 billion scheme has been set aside for services like the radio station.
With such a "lopsided" figure to work with, staff at the National Disability Insurance Agency allegedly told her the radio station did not fit their funding criteria.
The station is run on a "shoe-string" budget of about $160,000 a year with only two paid staff and more than 120 volunteers.
From a small weatherboard house on the Barton Highway, it broadcasts a news reading service to an estimated 50,000 listeners from as far away as Wagga Wagga.
But Ms Litster said they may be forced to reign in their broadcasting signal if the funding shortfall is not met.
This could mean their signal may not reach Queanbeyan, Yass or even Tuggeranong in the future.
"It's a catch-22 situation. We definitely provide a valuable service to disabled people and to be cut out like this is very unfair," she said.
An NDIA spokeswoman said the agency understood the radio station was valued by the visually impaired community and would continue to explore additional funding options.
"This may include working with other federal and territory government agencies," she said.
Mr Altamore, who is now vice-president of the station's management committee, believes access to information is a fundamental human right and without this service, many people will be at a disadvantage.
One elderly listener told him it was her "window to the world".
"It would mean people like me would have a diminished access to information, we would not know as much about what is happening in our local communities or what is happening nationally or around the world," he said.
"People who are print disabled like me do have a right to information. More fundamentally than that, the community wants people like me to contribute by being informed and knowledgeable.
So this lousy small amount of money is wasted, bullshit, its a vital service to many people.