Most of us rely on our local newspaper to keep in touch with what is happening in and around the area in which we live, providing information that does not reach us by television or radio. This is the real local news from which the visually impaired are completely cut off unless they happen to have a relative or friend who can spare the time to read to them regularly. The "talking newspaper" fills this gap, and plays an important role in helping to restore their independence as well as creating the opportunity for them to continue to take an active interest in the community. A few comments from listeners are typical of the feedback we get:
'I can’t thank Talking News enough, it’s kept me in the world. I really enjoy life. Every day is a challenge and every day I conquer it!'
'Thank you for a lovely day at your AGM. The business was short, food and drink very good and the entertainment superb and unique.'
'Thank you for a very enjoyable day at the Annual General Meeting. Perfect Transport, Perfect Food and Perfect Entertainment'
Every fortnight, Chichester area Talking News (CaTN) produces an hour of local news and features on memory sticks for blind and partially sighted people in the Chichester District. CaTN also produces a quarterly magazine programme called INSIGHT.
An edited version of the latest CaTN programme is broadcast every day on Chichester Hospital Radio (1431 AM, Channel 11, Hospicom and On-Line).
The CaTN programmes are recorded at the purpose built studio at St. Richard’s Hospital. There is a production team, including a producer, readers, contributors and a technical operator. The programme is recorded on to a computer and the resulting sound file is then copied onto memory sticks. These are then inserted into special wallets and posted free of charge to listeners who play them on their players at home - in other words, it's "the newspaper you can listen to".
Listeners return their memory stick by putting it into the wallet and posting it back to CaTN. Royal Mail returns the wallets to us free of charge.
The Chichester area Talking News programme is distributed fortnightly and is a 60-minute programme with the main content made up of local news and features taken from the Chichester Observer, Bognor Regis Observer, and the Midhurst and Petworth Observer. Also included is the Information Desk that covers items of special interest to blind and partially sighted listeners, Sports News, News from the Villages, and Richard Williamson's Nature Notes.
The CaTN quarterly magazine INSIGHT contains articles of local and general interest. The 75 minute programme, like the news edition, is free of charge.
The catchment area for listeners and news items is the Chichester, Bognor Regis, Midhurst and Petworth areas as covered by the three editions of the local 'Observer' newspaper – from the southern coastal towns and villages as far north as the Surrey border, east to Yapton and Walberton, and west to Emsworth.
Chichester area Talking News has a team of Area Helpers to introduce our service to new listeners and to look after the needs of existing listeners. If you are not already a listener and would like an Area Helper to contact you, or if you know of a friend or relative who would benefit from our talking newspaper, please write or email and include the following details - name, address with postcode, and telephone number.
When it was first distributed in 1975 CaTN was delivered to 42 blind and partially-sighted people. Today the postal distribution is more than 300.
The service continues to be free and all help is voluntary. Money is raised through annual fundraising events and donations. Funds are raised to provide an efficient and centralised headquarters complete with top-quality equipment for recording, duplicating, and administration. Financial help continues to be needed to meet the cost of replacing memory sticks, boomboxes, wallets and office maintenance.
Membership is open to all visually impaired people. There is no subscription fee. All listeners, and volunteers working for the association, are automatically members of Chichester area Talking News.