British Wireless for the Blind Fund logo

British Wireless for the Blind Fund (BWBF) and The Talking News Federation (TNF) have joined forces to make it even easier for blind and partially sighted people to listen to their local Talking Newspapers.

BWBF and TNF have launched a new mobile application, and a new skill for the Amazon Echo, so users can access over 200 regional Talking Newspapers from their smartphone, tablet or Alexa enabled device.

The British Wireless for the Blind Fund was formed in 1928 to provide adapted audio equipment to blind and partially sighted people throughout the UK. To this day, BWBF still provide accessible radios on a free loan to those who are unable to afford a specially adapted radio.

Talking Newspapers have been available in the UK since the 1970’s, and The Talking News Federation represent the interests of local Talking Newspapers by providing information, guidance and campaigning on a national level.

Working together, BWBF and TNF have developed a new app and Alexa skill so blind and partially sighted can easily and independently keep up to date with the local news and information.

Talking Newspaper app

The app, called “Talking Newspaper” can be downloaded by users to their own smart devices for free from both Apple and Android stores. It is available to people with a variety of difficulties reading text, such as dyslexia, as well as people who are blind or partially sighted.

The new app features over 200 regional Talking Newspapers, making it easier than ever to keep up with what’s going on in your own community or in areas where you may have friends or family.

Follow these links to find and install the Talking Newspaper app:

Alexa skill

Simply enable the Talking Newspapers skill on your Alexa device and ask the skill for the name of the talking newspaper you would like. The skill is compatible with all the talking newspapers hosted by BWBF.

You can enable the skill using your voice and the command “Alexa, Enable Talking Newspapers”, or do it manually through the Alexa app on a smart device. Search within Skills and Games for Talking Newspapers and tap the BWBF black and orange news logo to launch the skill. Once the skill is enabled you simply say, "Alexa, Open Talking Newspapers" and say the name of the local paper you would like. You can then easily navigate through the talking newspaper by asking Alexa to play the next track or the previous one, and catch up on your local news using voice commands alone.

Milton Rae, Sales and Marketing Manager for British Wireless for the Blind Fund said, “We see Alexa as a great tool that opens up this online world, helps people to stay in touch with their communities and feel less isolated. The new Talking Newspapers skill is very easy to use so people who are often left out of technical advances will be able to benefit from it too. The skill will help people to keep involved, even if they can’t go out in their communities, have moved away or if they want to know what’s happening where friends or families live.”

The development of the Alexa skill was initially supported by the Scottish Government’s Community Recovery Fund through the National Lottery Community Fund through a joint project between Cue and Review and British Wireless for the Blind Fund.

Sian Frost, who is a reader for a local talking newspaper in Wales, says, “Here in Powys we recently went digital in our recording, finally ditching audio cassettes. Many of our listeners struggle with touch screens and smartphones, so the real breakthrough has been the BWBF development of an Alexa skill for talking news. I see Alexa as such a powerful enabler, it really opens up the internet to those often left behind by technical innovation, especially the elderly and visually impaired. It also means that even those listeners who no longer live locally, can still check local newspapers from their hometown."

Published: 10 November 2021