How it all began
People with sight loss, whether registered blind, or partially sighted; can easily listen to National and International News on Radio and Television; but they cannot read the local newspaper and so do not know what may be happening in their own Town or Borough.
The invention of cassette tape recorders made it possible to record local news and send out a weekly tape to people with sight loss. MTN began operating from a front room in Morden, back in 1976, moving to a room rented from the Council after a few years, as the organisation began to grow.
Now MTN are the proud residents of a purpose built Digital Studio, called the Eric Walford Studio, which was officially opened in 1992 by actress Patricia Hayes. Our former president is well known radio and TV broadcaster during the 1950s, Sylvia Peters who would often enjoy reading for us.
How is it Listened to?
The digital process means that each recording is saved onto a small USB stick. A “book mark” is inserted after every reading, so the listener can select news items of interest by pressing the fast forward button.
Every new listener is given on permanent free loan, a small player with easy to operate large yellow buttons to plug in the USB stick, and play the recording through its inbuilt speaker. The British Wireless for the Blind Fund provides high quality, easy to use audio equipment which has been specially designed and adapted for listeners living with sight loss. You can download audio information from their website.
The news is taken from the Guardian Newspapers for the Mitcham, Morden and Wimbledon areas in their new edition every Thursday, and the MTN Editor selects the items to be read that evening by a team of four volunteers, on a rota basis.
How is it sent out and returned?
Once the recording is completed, the music introduction is added, and enough copies are then produced for all our listeners. Each USB stick is then checked to be playing correctly, and then is put into a special Velcro sealed postal wallet. These are all sent ‘Post Free’ under the ‘Articles for the Blind Convention’.
These wallets have the Listeners address on one side, and the Studio address on the other. Then when each person receiving it has listened to it, they put the USB stick back into the wallet, turn the address label over in its sealed pocket, and post it in their nearest post box to be returned to the Studio, ready for next week’s edition.
As well as the Local News, there is also a 30-minute Magazine each week, with articles of special interest to people with sight loss, as well as short stories, easy recipes, travel stories, and wildlife articles.
All done entirely by Volunteers
Everything is done by a great team of volunteers, from Readers, Technical Operators and Admin helpers who all work tirelessly behind the scenes for people with sight loss in Merton, giving their loyal and enthusiastic support. Fundraising is also an important issue as new equipment needs to be purchased, and existing equipment, along with our dedicated Studio needs to be maintained.