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Hear all about it! Podcast ensures visually impaired can still get the news

PUBLISHED: 14:56 23 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:56 23 April 2020

Chatterbox volunteer Frances Pearce with chairman David Potten. Volunteers are recording a podcast from their own homes to ensure visually impaired people can still listen to news. Picture: Bethany Wales

Chatterbox volunteer Frances Pearce with chairman David Potten. Volunteers are recording a podcast from their own homes to ensure visually impaired people can still listen to news. Picture: Bethany Wales

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An audio news service that serves the blind and visually impaired in Norfolk and Waveney has adapted the way it operates to ensure people across the county can still access their services.

Talking newspaper Chatterbox is producing a podcast remotely to ensure that blind and visually impaired people still have access to news while isolated. Picture: Bethany WalesTalking newspaper Chatterbox is producing a podcast remotely to ensure that blind and visually impaired people still have access to news while isolated. Picture: Bethany Wales

Chatterbox, the Norwich talking newspaper, has been recording weekly highlights from the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News for 42 years.

Usually, a team of 20 or more volunteers works to record the bulletins and send out up to 500 memory sticks every week.

However, this has become impossible in the current situation as it requires them to work together at their office, where they would be unable to practise social distancing and would potentially be putting their health at risk.

But instead of suspending the service, volunteers have innovated to continue to produce bulletins from their own homes, ensuring that their service continues to operate during the coronavirus lockdown.

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Instead of sending out a large batch of memory sticks every week, Chatterbox is producing a weekly podcast summary of Norfolk news from the EDP which can be listened to online, over the phone or via an Amazon smart speaker.

As well as the podcast, volunteers have also recorded highlights from the April edition of Norfolk magazine and articles from May’s edition of Let’s Talk.

Alison Aplin, who coordinated production of May’s Let’s Talk, said: “We hope many of our regular listeners will be able to listen to the weekly podcast and to Norfolk magazine and Let’s Talk. If anyone has friends, relations or neighbours who are blind or visually disabled please let them know that they can listen to the weekly recording.

“Listening to the website or on a smart speaker is free. Listening on 01603 327789 costs the same as a landline call to a Norwich number – and many people have free local calls at certain times.”

Chair of the listeners’ panel Mike Blythe said: “I just don’t know how the team are making this work, it’s like magic. I listen on the Alexa and the sound is getting better each week.

“I look forward to hearing the local news and keeping in touch with other listeners.”

To listen, visit www.cbtn.org.uk, ask your Amazon Echo: “Alexa, please enable my talking newspaper” or call 01603 327789 (option 1 for weekly podcast, option 2 for Let’s Talk or option 4 for Norfolk magazine).


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