Kingston Upon Thames Association for the Blind

Kingston Talking Newspaper

What is the Kingston Talking Newspaper?

The Kingston upon Thames Talking Newspaper brings any visually impaired person in our borough a weekly digest of local news and information on a memory stick. Currently there are over 100 weekly listeners. It is totally free to the recipients as it is produced entirely by volunteers and makes use of the free ‘Articles for the Blind’ postal service. A free sovereign box can be provided to anyone who needs one.

All the news is taken from local newspapers. There is also a short magazine section which can contain information from the local authority and organisations that have something of interest to offer to the visually impaired .

How does it work?

The magazine section is put together during the week and a master copy is created by one of the producers on a Thursday at our studio in Surbiton. Any late announcements such as bus route changes are recorded at this time as well. The postbags containing returned items from the previous week are collected and labels on the pouches are reversed ready to send out again. The local paper, usually the Surrey Comet, is scanned for a good mix of interesting news.

Three volunteer readers and a producer record the articles. Recording normally ends at midday, then the copying starts.

Pouches are then taken to the sorting office so that they may reach their destinations hopefully on Saturday morning.

Click here to access web version of Talking News

How can you help?

Volunteers are always needed to read and produce the Talking Newspaper.
In particular volunteers are needed to get involved in the transportation of the pouches and logging the returns stages on Thursday afternoons and the copying and transportation on Fridays.

If you are interested and would like to get involved in any way, please telephone Brian Gaff on 020 8287 4180

Award for Kingston man who kept borough's newspaper for the blind going through lockdown

Article written by Ellie Brown - Kingston Nub News

Brian Gaff pictured here receiving his award from the Mayor of Kingston / Credit: Kingston Council

Brian Gaff pictured here receiving his award from the Mayor of Kingston / Credit: Kingston Council

A Kingston resident who runs the borough's only talking newspaper for sight-impaired people has won an award for his efforts to keep the paper going through lockdown.

Brian Gaff moved to Kingston in 1956 and has been involved with the Kingston Association for the Blind for more than 20 years.

He received a special Covid award from the Mayor of Kingston in a socially-distanced ceremony yesterday for his work producing the paper when it was unable to access its studio last March.

Brian, who has no sight and uses voice-enabled software on his computer, found a way to recreate the studio's professional set-up on his home device and spent hours each week editing recordings from the paper's readers made using their phones at home.

He also found a way to send recordings to the paper's readers using digital and telephone-based systems, as the usual USB sticks with the paper on could no longer be sent out.

Brian told Nub News he was surprised to receive the award and grateful for the paper which kept him busy over lockdown.

He said: "I would also like to thank my four producers, John, Helen, Sandy, and David, who are sighted and help with lots of the things blind people like myself cannot do, gathering news from inaccessible web sites being just one of many, and our readers who have had to learn new skills.

"And of course my parent Charity, Kingston Upon Thames Association for the blind, whose three part time employees have been supporting our blind members over this time, doing more hours than they are paid for and even surviving all getting Covid 19 over Christmas.

"So a Big thank you to Jean, Lisa and Vanessa for their support while I laboured over a hot keyboard.

"Also special thanks for our web site and Alexa Guru, Jonathan, and also the British Wireless for the Blind association for their talking News paper app."

In her citation for Brian read out at the ceremony yesterday, Talking Newspaper producer Helen Mendelson said: "I cannot begin to imagine how Brian navigates around websites and his computer with no vision.

"His knowledge, his curiosity, and most importantly his commitment to ensure that the local blind community are not left out as we make more of life screen-based, are the reason why the talking newspaper is still created and appreciated each week."

She added: "The weekly Kingston Talking Newspaper keeps visually impaired people in touch with local news and vital information from the Council.

"This has been even more important during the pandemic when the world went online, becoming more inaccessible to VIPs."

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