Talking newspaper launches podcast so visually impaired can still get news

Talking newspaper Chatterbox is producing a podcast remotely to ensure that blind and visually impai

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 Wales - Credit: Archant

Staying at home and avoiding all unnecessary contact with others is difficult for all of us, but this will especially be the case for those who are visually impaired.

Chatterbox volunteer Tim Edwards. Picture: Bethany Wales

Chatterbox volunteer Tim Edwards. Picture: Bethany Wales - Credit: Archant

At times like this, initiatives like talking newspapers are even more important to them.

Many of these volunteer-led groups are facing challenges in the current climate, with the distribution of their content being particularly problematic.

Chatterbox, the Norwich talking newspaper, usually delivers its weekly content via memory sticks sent in the post, but volunteer Tim Edwards said they “couldn’t risk” asking their volunteers to continue to do this.

Instead, the group has changed the way it works by switching away from that formula and launching a weekly podcast.

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Mr Edwards, who is coordinating the podcast production, said: “For 42 years Chatterbox has produced a weekly talking newspaper. We did not wish to stop as we have over 400 listeners who love listening to Chatterbox every week.

“They are blind or visually impaired and are likely to be even more isolated at this time of crisis. However, we could not continue to send out over 400 wallets a week containing memory sticks, as this would have required volunteers to come to our offices.

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“We are therefore doing all the recording and sound editing from our own homes so that our volunteers are not put at any risk.”

Chatterbox, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of its first recording last year, will collaborate with Vision Norfolk and include any messages they wish to send out in the weekly podcasts.

The first edition was produced on Thursday, March 26, and is now available to listeners.

It can be accessed by visiting the website, calling 01603 327789 or on an Amazon Echo device by asking: “Alexa, please enable my talking newspaper.”

Acting chair of Chatterbox David Potten said: “We hope that many of our regular listeners will be able to listen to the weekly podcast. 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 a smart speaker is free. Listening on 01603 327789 costs the same as a landline call to a Norwich number – many people have free local calls at certain times.”

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