A TALKING newspaper service that gives the blind and partially sighted the chance to keep up to date with events in the Lothians has celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Lothiansound, which offers free audio recordings of articles from the Evening News, was the subject of a debate in the Scottish Parliament last night as an event took place to celebrate its quarter century.
Since its launch in 1988, more than 1200 editions have been produced and the charity has seen listener numbers surge from just 40 to around 500.
Edinburgh Southern MSP Jim Eadie, who brought the members business debate to Holyrood and hosted the reception at the parliament in honour of the talking newspaper, said Lothiansound had offered a “cherished service” to blind and partially-sighted people.
The SNP politician added: “I was delighted to have secured the debate to mark the 25th anniversary of Lothiansound. It’s appropriate through the debate and the parliamentary reception last night to pay tribute to the work of its many dedicated volunteers. This provides a much anticipated service to around 500 listeners who enjoy news from the Edinburgh Evening News as well as a Scottish quiz and the opportunity to access transcriptions of theatre productions.”
Around 55 people volunteers work to produce the talking newspaper including newsreaders, editors, sound engineers and administrators.
A selection of articles on local news are read and additional comments may be added with relevant information for blind and partially sighted people. They can be read on any topic and pieces on Edinburgh’s past are often the most popular. The weekly newspapers last 90 minutes on tape and 80 minutes on CDs, which have been offered since a move to digital recording was made in 2008.
Since April last year, the service has been based at the Royal Blind building in Newington.
Janelle Scotland, chair of Lothiansound, first became involved with the talking newspaper in 1991 and said listeners viewed the volunteers behind the newspapers as “friends coming into their homes”.
She added: “It’s been a real success story and it means something different to each of us. Listeners have relied on us for 25 years and for volunteers they get to help other people.
“We’re run solely by volunteers so I’d like to say a big thank you to them.”
Potential listeners or volunteers can contact Lothiansound ar firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0131-661 2850.