TROWBRIDGE TALKING NEWS (formerly Trowbridge Tapes for the Blind) has existed for over 40 years, and in that time has issued more than 150,000 extracts from the local weekly newspaper, The Wiltshire Times, on audio tape or memory stick for the benefit of the visually impaired in the Trowbridge and West Wiltshire area.
This Community Service project is provided by a group of 20 volunteers. From a master copy, around 50 individual memory sticks are prepared each week and distributed by Royal Mail to local people and previous residents of the area with impaired vision who like to keep abreast of the news in Trowbridge and the surrounding district.
Each member of our small group takes a turn to read The Wiltshire Times and create the master digital memory stick, or to duplicate the digital copies, at their own house. Each week the designated News Reader selects articles from the newspaper to include on the master. Every reader has his/her own way of reading the news. Our Readers are local residents and often know someone featured in the news from their schooldays or business life and will add an appropriate comment. This all helps to entertain the listener.
When the master copy is ready, it is passed to another member for the duplicating process. This is performed on a machine which copies the Master onto eleven memory sticks simultaneously, so that it is not too onerous a task to prepare the 70 individual copies. Once the copies have been duplicated, they are prepared for distribution. Each copy is placed into a special Velcro pouch bearing the name of the recipient, sealed, and posted. The Post Office distributes the pouches by post for no charge under an arrangement with the RNIB and the Talking Newspaper Federation.
When the recipient has listened to the News on the individual digital player, which we may provide, the memory stick is put back in the pouch, the label reversed, and then posted back to our base at Trowbridge Information Centre. Some TV’s can now play the USB stick.
The duties are rotated so that each member is involved for two issues, as a Reader or a Duplicator (or in some cases both aspects). This means that the duties recur only two consecutive weekends about every 4 months. It is important that the Dictators speak clearly and confidently with little hesitation and can edit their contributions from the Wiltshire Times to last about an hour. Duplicating is more of an Administrative job requiring the registration of each returned pouch, using the copying computer, and posting the relevant pouches.
Occasionally we require new volunteer members. If you know anyone who might be able to give two or three hours every 4 months to this worthwhile cause we would be very pleased to explain our arrangements in more detail. Volunteers would be welcome to sit in with one of our Readers or Duplicators at their home sessions to see more clearly what is involved.
We are affiliated to the national Talking News Federation (www.tnf.org.uk)
Chris Williams (Secretary)