Talking newspapers for blind and visually impaired people in Oxford & district
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Chairman’s newsletter

April 16, 2007

Spring 2007 letter from the Chairman

Dear volunteers

It is a great pleasure to write to you all with news from both the Oxtalk Committee and myself in this ‘Spring newsletter’. Let me start by reiterating my words from the AGM last October: our organisation is very healthy and remains very good at what it does best; delivering local talking news to the blind and visually impaired of Oxford and its environs. For this I must thank you all for the key roles you play in our delivery ‘system’. As a part of the overall Oxtalk team, and also part of one of our specialist sub-teams, you all play a vital role in getting the news from the printed page, onto the tapes, and then into the hands of our listeners. Week in and week out. And we know from the questionnaires we sent out last year just how much our weekly deliveries are appreciated. So thank you again on behalf both of the committee and our listeners. We do, however, have some challenges ahead that will test us. The main one is to respond to the new digital revolution and to prepare ourselves in 2007 for the eventual move from old-fashioned audiotapes to new digital media. With this in mind the committee is working hard to identify what new media are being used by other talking newspapers and talking books (CDs, MP3 files, thumb-drives etc etc) and to draw up a technology transfer strategy for the future for Oxtalk. Wish us luck!! Meantime, however, we are taking the brave new step of putting Oxtalk on the internet in the form of an Oxtalk website. This will provide information and news on Oxtalk and has been designed to be easy to use for both sighted people and visually impaired people and blind people (via screen readers). We are currently populating it with information and pictures prior to its public ‘launch’, but if you would like to watch it grow, then do log onto www.oxtalk.org.uk. Ultimately we intend to use the website as one of our talking-news delivery channels by putting our weekly digital news recording file on the site and allowing people to click on it and hear the news. This is a little way off yet, however, and will be part of our overall digital delivery plan for Oxtalk.

Our shift to digital technology for delivering our news will come at a cost, however, and one of our objectives for 2007 is to build our finances to make sure that we can fund the move when it eventually happens. We are applying for grants as and when we are able to and sometimes we are lucky and sometimes not. However one tried and tested fund-raising route for us over the years has been street-collections and this year we have three collections booked as follows:

7th May, 7am-9pm – Swinford Toll Bridge, Eynsham

16th June, 9am-5pm, Westgate Centre (outside Sainsburys)

22nd September, 9am-5pm, city-wide street collection (usually town-centre, Summertown, Headington)

We are always short of people to rattle tins (or collect 5ps in the case of the toll bridge) so please, if you are available for an hour or two on any one of these days, please contact me and I’ll put you on our rota at a time to suit you. Please do look in your diaries for May 7th (Bank-holiday Monday) in particular as we really do need as many people as we can collecting on the bridge that day, and fully expect to enjoy ourselves as we do so.

Finally I hope you have noticed our new-look logo at the top of the page. The committee decided that as we are developing a website to publicise our work, our old and rather dated logo could also do with a fresh treatment. I hope you like it and agree that it reflects simply what we do; transforming lines of text on the page into sound waves for the visually impaired. That’s all I have for the moment, I will be back in touch later in the year. Meantime do let me know if you can help on the 7th May, or indeed on one of our other collection dates. Most important of all though, a big thankyou once again from the committee for the dedication and support that you already provide, and for being an ‘Oxtalk volunteer’. Kind regards Graham Piercy Chairman, Oxtalk

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