The Grantham and District Talking Newspaper for the Blind has been offering a valuable news service for the blind and partially-sighted in the Journal’s circulation area for almost 30 years.
Last week’s edition was the 1,500th produced so far and, with 150 people regularly switching on to learn of the news in Grantham, the service continues to be as valued today as ever.
The Journal catches up with talking newspaper vice-chairman Judith Parker.
How and when did the Talking Newspaper come about?
A local businessman who was also partially-sighted, Bill Cross, was approached to set up the Talking Newspaper and it all went from there. He got different people together and started fund-raising and finally managed, after a lot of difficulty, to launch the Talking Newspaper in 1983. But a great deal of work, research and fund-raising was needed in the beginning. There was a wheelbarrow run with passengers from the Guildhall to Lenton which raised £1,100.
How many volunteers do you have?
It varies. People come when they can but we can call on quite a number of people - about 150. We have different teams. A team comes in on Friday morning to set up and get all the boards out. Then we get the Journal and cut out the bits we think are of most interest and stick them on the different boards. We have people doing all kinds of things but we could do with a few more ladies. We used to have more ladies than men but not anymore and we always need people conversant with recording.
How important are donations?
We have had an awful lot of help from Grantham Rotarians and Masons, the Buffaloes and the Journal. We get help from schools and groups and really just local people who send small donations. We’ve found that people are very, very generous.
How do you choose what’s important and newsworthy for your particular audience?
We give them all the general news then anything that might particularly interest blind people - if there are roadworks anywhere for example. Also the What’s On. We do mostly have registered blind people as that’s who is passed on to us but we do have partially-sighted people too. Then we give them the births and deaths because quite a lot of our readers are elderly and may know people. Then we have other bits and pieces - anything that might interest our readers really.
Do you get much feedback?
We don’t tend to get a lot of feedback but when we do it is usually verbal feedback and it is usually very positive. When we switched from tapes to CDs we were not sure if some of the readers would be able to handle the technology but we found people were overwhelmingly in favour. We do still have one or two on tapes but the majority are now on CDs. We don’t get a lot of feedback but the people we speak to seem to enjoy it and it seems to go down well.
On Friday you celebrated the Talking Newspaper’s 1,500th issue. That must make everyone proud.
Absolutely. We are absolutely delighted to have got this far really, with all sorts of different people at different times and we’ll be having a little celebration to mark the milestone.