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The challenges for Talking Newspaper

Created on 11/04/2018 @ 09:50
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A pioneering service that has since become vital for thousands of people across the UK is facing some challenging times.

The Powys Talking Newspaper for the Blind, based at the Armoury in Welshpool, is thought to be the second of its kind to have started in the UK way back in 1971, following on from the inaugural service in Aberystwyth started in 1970.

There are now over 500 groups operating across the UK, but with its annual meeting this Thursday at 4pm, the group says it has a few challenges to confront.

“We are looking for additional volunteers to help with editing the newspaper to be read, and also for running the recording of the readings and duplicating the tapes to be sent out to our blind/partially sighted listeners,” said the group’s Paul England.

The Talking Newspaper was formed by a group of volunteers who record local news onto audio tapes which are circulated to blind and visually impaired people in Montgomeryshire. Some years later the service was enlarged to cover the whole of Powys and now two one-hour versions are released every week for North and South of the county.

“Working on a weekly average, we believe that more than 200,000 audio cassettes have been produced in Welshpool for delivery in the county and also other places in the UK where Powys news is of interest to visually impaired people,” added Paul.

“We are a Registered Charity and now entirely self-funding. Our Talking Newspaper is produced by volunteers free of charge, and the visually impaired listeners receive the service without any cost to them.”

Cassettes are produced on Friday each week in the Welshpool studio which the Post Office staff deliver, usually on a Monday, free of charge, as ‘Articles for the Blind’.

“We organise our volunteers into these three groups,” explained Paul. “Editors who select the appropriate news from the local media. Readers with clear diction and technicians who are capable of using recording and copying equipment.”

The tapes are sent out by mail before being returned to the group for re-recording the following week.

Despite its popularity, Paul says the Group is wary of the listenership numbers dropping and he believes there may be more than one factor.

“We do not have clear reasons for the apparent drop in interest but we believe that our listeners are middle aged or older so it may be that younger visually impaired people are able to obtain local news through other sources. Modern medical advances may also be helping to reduce the number of visually impaired people.

“But we hope to continue the recording of local news until such a time that we are no longer required.”

Powys Talking Newspaper for the Blind’s AGM on Thursday starts at 4pm in the Committee Room at the Armoury.


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