Help to keep charity’s valuable resource talking

Volunteer Talking Newspaper readers Dorothy Berry, Joan Evens and Pat McEvoy.
Volunteer Talking Newspaper readers Dorothy Berry, Joan Evens and Pat McEvoy.

Anyone who can read a newspaper without a second thought will probably never wonder how anyone with sight impairment or the blind can also access local news.

A local librarian in Aberystwyth called Ronald Sturt paid a visit to Sweden in 1968 where he was impressed by a scheme they had to record news on to open reel tape machines and then sent the 
recordings out to the blind and partially sighted. He reported enthusiastically on this scheme when he got home and the local Round 
Table took it on board.

The outcome of that was the formation of the Talking News Federation which quickly spread the word 
nationally.

John Dean in Scarborough was impressed by the idea, and in 1982 started our very own talking newspaper with enormous enthusiasm and drive, gathering volunteers and sourcing funding from local businessmen and any clubs or organisations which had funds available for charity work.

The medium on which he recorded was tape cassette, still used by a few of our listeners, and for a short while CDs, however these proved costly as they had to be thrown away each time, therefore we eventually progressed to memory sticks and special players to provide our listeners with the equipment to play them.

Our current location is at Yorkshire Coast Sight Support on Dean Road where we rent a custom-made studio on the top floor, all design work and running of the service being done by enthusiastic volunteers who give of their time and expertise freely.

We have a team of 40-plus volunteers who cover each week on a rota, eight of whom are editors and gather the news from a variety of sources, concentrating on local news.

The news items are then read by a team of four plus the editor on a Wednesday morning. The recording is made digitally which allows the 
recorder to cut out any coughs or stutters before making master copies.

The following Thursday morning a team of four copy and check the required number of recordings needed and arrange despatch in special plastic pouches which are posted to the listener.

The service is entirely free to the listener and our registrar visits any new listener initially to provide a player if required and to explain how to use it.

We also realised that there were people who had other medical reasons which prevented them from reading a newspaper so now we supply our service to anyone who has any medical condition preventing them from doing so.

We receive no funding whatsoever from any official body, relying on the goodwill of local clubs and members of the public. So if you are a member of any organisation which raises money for local good causes then we would be so grateful if you considered our charity.

Anyone who would like to know more in detail about what we do, please contact me on my email address and I will be happy to oblige.

Malcolm Smith

bruce@malcs70.plus.com