Volunteers bring news to readers with sight issues in Rugby

Ron Henderson.
Ron Henderson.

How do you stay up to date with news if you can’t see the words on a page?

Although visually impaired people can listen to radio news, for many it does not provide the depth of analysis found in a newspaper, magazine or website.

Bob Arkell.

Bob Arkell.

Volunteers at Rugby and District Talking Newspaper for the Blind help bring the news to blind and visually impaired people.

The service was created as a joint venture by the Rugby Rotary Club and the Rugby Rokeby Lions in 1973.

Since that opening edition all those years ago the newspaper has supplied a regular weekly service and is now nearing its 2,000 edition.

During those years, around 300,000 tapes have been despatched to 6,000 listeners.

Audrey Chandler.

Audrey Chandler.

Charity secretary Bob Arkell said: “Over the years we have had many homes; for various reasons the newspaper has had to keep looking for a new one.

“Our first was the old police station at the bottom of Railway Terrace and the second was the adult learning centre in Somers Road, and then Rugby College until it was demolished.”

He said thanks to the generosity of Pinnacle Care, the present home is at the rear of Elmhurst, in Hillmorton Road.

Bob added: “The newspaper’s contents include all the news provided by the Rugby Advertiser prior to general publication plus other sources of news along with the births, marriages, deaths, late chemists, what’s on, weather, gardening and sport.

Allison Henderson and Joan Stretton.

Allison Henderson and Joan Stretton.

“At the beginning of 2014 the newspaper switched from the old fashioned audio tapes to memory sticks giving much improved sound quality. This changeover cost a great deal of money but thanks to Rugby Soroptimists, who granted us sufficient money, we were able to do this.”

The paper is run by volunteers - some are readers and technicians, some clean the incoming ‘dirty’ memory sticks from the previous week’s issue and some arrange for the copy of the current news on to the memory sticks and their despatch back to listeners.

The service is completely free, there are no postage charges thanks to the Royal Mail and any blind or partially sighted person who wishes to use the service can obtain all the necessary equipment on loan.

Listeners do not have to be registered blind, they only have to have difficulty in reading the small print of the newspapers.

If you would like to receive the Talking Newspaper service or get involved and have technical knowledge,
telephone secretary Francoise Griffiths on (01788) 543667 or Bob Arkell on (01788) 551258.