The History of Talking Newspapers
In 1968, senior librarian Ronald Sturt went on a study visit to Västerås in Sweden. The library there had, with the local association for the blind, started a talking newspaper, Arosbandet.
And so, in January 1970, one of the first Talking Newspapers was born. Tape cassettes dropped through the letterboxes of twenty blind people in Cardiganshire. The idea caught on and, slowly but surely, Talking Newspapers began to spring up in other parts of the country. By 1974, there were enough to warrant the formation of a national membership body, the Talking Newspaper Association of the United Kingdom (TNAUK). Its objectives were to unite and serve the growing number of active local Talking Newspapers and to stimulate their creation to reach every blind reader in the four nations who wanted to keep in touch with the local community.
The Talking News Federation (TNF) was voted into being at the TNAUK AGM held at the Annual Conference in Southport 2004. Delegates agreed that a new, separate organisation would be better suited to look after the interests of the membership than Talking Newspaper Association of the UK (TNAUK) based in Heathfield, Sussex). By the end of March 2005, a committee of 9 was in place, a new charity had been formed, papers had been signed and the new organisation was ready to accept membership from April 1st 2005. In the first few years many things were achieved and introduced including:
- a fully equipped registered office in Royal Wootton Bassett and then a move to Swindon, Wiltshire
- a new membership magazine
- a general survey of all local Talking Newspapers
- the transfer of the Ronald Sturt training fund to TNF and the introduction of 3 new bursaries funded by the interest earned from the account
- policy documents for both TNF and for members to adapt for themselves
- a new website – started in 2005, revised in 2008
- a new directory of Talking Newspapers and Magazines
- annual conferences which have been well attended
- maintain the number of local conferences held
- reduced insurance costs for TNF member TNs
- purchased a selection of collecting boxes etc. for use by the membership
- Obtained grant from Awards for All for the purchase of display and exhibition equipment
- Membership stabilised at just below 400
From these humble beginnings, TNF intends to grow by constantly looking at how best assistance can be given to the membership. This is being achieved through entering into a number of agreements with like organisations, spreading the word by means of attending national exhibitions and providing equipment with which local TNs can promote their services.