Dacorum Talking Newspaper: Bringing news to the visually impaired

Meet the Hemel Hempstead-based charity that makes online and print stories accessible

Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 2:19 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 2:19 pm

For most people picking up a newspaper or clicking on a website is the easiest way to keep up to date with local news. But what about the visually impaired? Enter the Dacorum Talking Newspaper.

This audio newspaper service records from Adeyfield Community Centre and gives blind and visually impaired individuals in Dacorum equipment to stay connected with their local area.

Using the Gazette and some national stories, Dacorum Talking Newspaper (DTN) creates recordings of the week’s biggest news.

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DTN is a weekly service that provides weekly recordings of local news.

Kevin Doona, DTN’s newest editor, says that this is a great service for people who cannot read the news.

He said: “It’s about keeping people connected. It's about what's going on in the area."

Kevin is part of a small team of editors who work on the weekly recording and are always looking for new volunteers to help out.

It is easy to think that visually-impaired people might not be interested in stories that they can’t get involved with themselves, but

DTN is always welcoming volunteers to fill in for readers on occasion.

Kevin says that for visually-impaired people, despite not being able to go to certain events, doesn't mean that they don't want stay in the know about local news.

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After every recording, the hour-long clip is available online on DTN’s website.

In a shift to using interactive and innovative technology, DTN features on Alexa and Google Home devices for blind people to access easily via the internet.

Simply say: Open the Dacorum Talking Newspaper skill.

As with many charities that help blind people, DTN uses donations to give people smart speakers to access its recordings.

But, unfortunately, as Kevin explains, internet access is not universal.

Kevin said: “There's not always the money for people living with disabilities to be to have luxuries like the internet.”

For the 60 listeners who receive a memory stick in the post, the articles serve as conversation starters about stories that they would otherwise not know about.

The listeners plug the stick into the speaker from DTN.

Kevin said: “If the listeners weren't enjoying it, there'd be no point in doing it. I'm given the impression that they love it.”

People can learn about DTN and how to sign up for a memory stick here.