A sight-impaired person listening to the local news on a USB player
Reading's Talking News is a registered charity which provides extracts from Reading and other surrounding local newspapers, now in a MP3 format on a USB flash memory drive to visually-impaired people in Reading and surrounding areas.
How It All Began
In 1974 a group of local people decided to found a Talking Newspaper, to be affiliated to TNAUK - the Talking Newspaper Association of the United Kingdom. They raised the money to buy the equipment necessary to supply a audio Newspaper on cassette to 35 sight impaired people in the Reading area. They were registered by the Charity Commissioners, and issued their first newspaper in March 1976.
For the first few months the compact cassette tapes were recorded and copied in Mike and Chris McMillan's living room before being posted to the listeners using the GPO's free Articles for the Blind service.
A brief History
After 3 moves including a period at 210 FM, we ended up at the Reading Adult and Community College where we were based for several years, however changes to these premises caused RTN to seek alternative premises and thanks to Tom Conlin, Chief Executive of Berks County Blind Society, we were offered a room at their premises in Erleigh Road which we took up and did our move in July 2011.
Late in 2012 because of having trouble with afternoon recordings and copying, plus having to set up the equipment every time we decided to move again and as we were already offered a room at Reading Association for the blind it allowed us to make the move in January 2013.
In the year 2009 with the decline of the compact cassette the decision was taken to go digital and the move to USB drives and there players started in 2010. Using these new USB drive enables small teams of volunteer Producers, Editors and Readers, followed by Copiers, involved each week, to record a lot more items of news and general interest than has been possible on the traditional audio tape, the first of these USB drives were sent out 28th July 2011.
The Association Today
These days we produce 90 minutes of articles on an USB drive each week, except for between Christmas and the New Year, when there are difficulties over postage. The first 45 minutes are based on material from Reading's local newspapers; and the other 45 minutes is a mix of articles from these papers plus an article from TNF-soundings which contains infomation of use for sight loss people and other from magazines for which copyright permission has been obtained. These USB drives are sent out to 150-200 listeners.
There are a number of news teams comprising an editor and three additional readers. These are complemented by four producers-recording engineers, and several teams of four which handle the duplication and distribution of USB drives. Reading's talking news is managed by a committee of around eight people of which there are two sight impair Listeners' Representatives. All are unpaid volunteers.
The Association these days are affiliated to the
Talking Newspaper Federation (TNF).
If you wish to help in any way please go to.
By making a donation
by volunteering as a reader, by helping in the technical or administrative areas.
If you, or a friend or relative, are...
The service is entirely free of charge to listeners, although in order to make use of the free postal service they must be registered sight impaired. We will endeavour to get USB drives to other people unable to read the printed paper because of a disability. Listeners will need to be able to play MP3 files from a USB drive but the branch has a number of USB players, pictured right, which they will loan to listeners as long as they require them. These drives are sent out in wallets which have a zip compartment. After listening to the weeks news and other articles the listener replaces the USB drive in the wallet with the label which they remove from a pocket on the front. This is done because in the nineties, when the Post Office first introduced an automatic sorting system, pockets tended to be ripped off. The label has the recipient's name and address on one side and is made of plastic for durability.
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