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Anonymous donor allows talking newspaper to move to smart speakers

PUBLISHED: 20:07 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:11 30 May 2019

Lord Mayor of Norwich Martin Schmierer with Chatterbox volunteers at the special 40th anniversary recording. Photo: Bethany Wales

Lord Mayor of Norwich Martin Schmierer with Chatterbox volunteers at the special 40th anniversary recording. Photo: Bethany Wales

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A talking newspaper which provides the latest headlines to Norwich's visually impaired has received thousands of pounds from an anonymous donor.

Chatterbox, Norwich's Talking Newspaper, started sending out weekly talking bulletins 40 years ago, using cutting from this newspaper, but although the technology has moved on from posting out cassette tapes, the service's technology needed an upgrade.

And now thanks to a £5,500 grant from an anonymous donor, the recordings will be able to be listened to on an Amazon Echo smart speaker and on the telephone.

Currently recordings are sent out on USB memory sticks and Chatterbox provides listeners with a free memory stick player. Listeners plug in the memory stick each week to hear the new recording, which includes cuttings from the monthly EDP Norfolk magazine, Let's Talk, and Chataround, a quarterly magazine produced by a Chatterbox team.

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Now, 50 listeners will get a free smart speaker and support will be provided to help new users setup their smart speakers and start listening to Chatterbox.

This will be provided to Chatterbox listeners who already have wifi connections, and are interested in trying out the new technology.

Stephen Cox, who will be coordinating the trial, said: "We are very excited by this opportunity to exploit the latest technologies for talking newspapers. We know it will not suit everyone, and expect to be continuing to provide many listeners with memory sticks for a very long time, but we hope that the use of smart speakers will spread, as it will reduce some of our production costs."

Part of the grant will also be used to buy a defibrillator for the Chatterbox office.

Christine Gillham, one of the Chatterbox team leaders who has been trained in emergency first aid, said: "We hope that we never have to use the defibrillator, but it is good to know that we now have the means to intervene if it is suddenly needed."

Chatterbox always welcomes new blind or visually impaired listeners, who are provided with a free USB memory stick player and receive all Chatterbox recordings every week, free of charge. Anyone interested can contact Chatterbox at contact@cbtn.org.uk or leave a message on their answerphone on 01603 765365.

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