Official logo of BDAN
Bedford Talking Newspaper
for the Blind (BDAN)
Registered UK charity no. 802814

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About B.D.A.N.

Revised: August 2014

Founded in 1978, Bedford and District Audio News (BDAN) is a registered UK charity. It records and distributes free weekly CD's and USB sticks* of local press stories and a quarterly magazine of general interest items, all read in English, for those who cannot see, have a visual impairment or cannot hold a newspaper. The news output is also available, for free, to a wider audience via this website.

BDAN is run by unpaid volunteers and the newspaper area covers roughly a 10-15 mile radius around Bedford in eastern England, United Kingdom. Bedford is about 60 miles north of London.

Even though the news area is relatively small, the free distribution can be to any postal address in the UK. Listeners can also receive news from multiple Talking Newspapers at any one time.


1) On CD for use on any CD player. Your weekly CD arrives in a "Cardboard mailer". Once you have finished with the CD, it and the mailer can be discarded, there is nothing to return. The picture below shows a CD and mailer.

CD and Mailer

2) On USB stick * - shown below is an easy to operate player with large yellow buttons

Photo of an easy to operate player

and here are two smaller players. The black player shown below is available to listeners on free loan. The other two are available for purchase from BDAN.

Photo of Sapphire and stick

Other options are a radio or television with a USB socket, or a Wireless For The Blind radio.

* USB sticks are small digital storage devices, also known as pen, thumb or flash drives. A typical USB stick is shown on the right.
Photo of a stick

3) Online - Streamed or downloaded from this website by clicking on the large yellow button in the middle of the home page from a computer, laptop or other device supporting web access.

BDAN is funded entirely from donations, and the picture below shows committee member Lesley Pitter receiving a donation from Rita Holyoak of the Bedford Brickhill Ladies Group to aid our running costs.

Around 100 listeners currently take the free compact discs and USB sticks. Most live locally, but as mentioned, others reside further afield - keen to catch up with Bedford's news if they have moved away or have a connection to the town. Generously, Royal Mail does not charge for conveying the mail, under the Articles For The Blind postal concession.

As well as the weekly CD / USB stick of news, a quarterly magazine is also produced, featuring local and national items of interest, stories and a What's On guide to local events.

The small charity is run by a committee that meets each quarter, and is elected at the spring Annual General Meeting (AGM) - to which listeners, volunteers and members of the public and press are most welcome.

Chairmen of BDAN

1978-87 Mr Cyril Humphreys
1987-88 Mr Alan Charge
1988-97 Mr Roy Purser
1997-04 Mrs Eira Grewer
2004-10 Mrs Delia Partridge
2010 Mr Tom Owens
2011- Mr David Mitchell

Current Commitee Positions (as at AGM 2012)

Vice Chairman
Social Secretary
Volunteer Rotas
Listener Representatives (two positions)

Behind The Scenes of the Weekly News Edition

With around 100 people receiving Bedford and District Audio News CD's and USB sticks, the process of production and distribution must be organised effectively.

The service currently has around 30 volunteers, most giving just a few hours every five or six weeks. There are many tasks - from collecting sacks of returned wallets (containing the USB sticks), to sorting these and preparing for the next week's output. Then there is fundraising and committee work, and the task of reading and recording the news.

A volunteer collects several sacks of BDAN material returned through the postVolunteers all give their time to ensure that each and every listener receives his or her edition of news on time and in good condition.

Last Week's Edition

Monday morning and the process of producing the weekly Audio News begins. Sacks of returned USB memory sticks from the previous week are collected from the Royal Mail sorting office in Bedford. These are taken to BDAN's small studio room close to the town centre. Alternating coloured wallets (with Velcro closures) are used every other week - yellow then black and so forth.

Each USB stick is taken out of its pouch for reuse. Sticks are automatically erased by the computer during copying later.


Names checked against the database of current BDAN listeners. A further check is also made to see if a message or letter from the listener has been included. The new pouches are prepared with address labels, and are then are ready for use again. Meanwhile, notices to be read on the next Audio News edition are written, including listener birthdays and a welcome for any new listeners.

Three preparers / sorters pictured in the studio with the main register list and piles of yellow wallets on 25th October 2011

Right: Checking-in last week's USB memory sticks, keeping the register up-to-date and actioning any messages from listeners (such as a request for a pause in delivery if he / she plans to be away)

Recording Night

Monday afternoon or early evening and the week's Team Leader (a sort of chief reader) selects items from the Bedford edition of the Bedfordshire Times and Citizen newspaper. There are six BDAN Team Leaders - responsible for contacting the scheduled readers to ensure that they are able to attend the recording session. And if not, to arrange cover from a small selection of standby helpers.

Image of a team preparing to record - Ann & Dennis Craddock, and Cecil Parry with studio operator Robin Grewer, in the foreground left

By about 6.30pm the week's team has assembled at the small basic first floor studio, and the news stories, sport, letters and other articles are divided between the readers (some Team Leaders pre-prepare batches of cuttings). Usually, there are three or four readers - including the Team Leader. The recordist / technician - sits opposite, monitoring the microphone sound levels and operating the mixer controls and computer.

BDAN records the news digitally - this involves the technican / recordist using a computer program to capture the hour's worth of audio from which, after editing, two master copies are produced, one for the CD version and one for the USB stick version. For more information on the introduction of USB sticks, please see the History page of this website.

Photo of a recordist / technican, wearing headphones, seated and operating the studio computer, with the mixing desk in front

Usually any reader mistakes are corrected as recording proceeds. Other mistakes, long pauses and volume level corrections are made during the editing phase. When considered acceptable, three masters are produce, CD, USB stick and the recording available on this website.

Image showing a BDAN reader checking newspaper text in the studio Unbiased Reading

It is important that volunteers do not introduce any bias to articles, and reflect the piece as written. Letters to the (newspaper) Editor are sometimes read, with a note of differing opinions, as necessary. No censorship of articles takes place. Lengthy reports however, may be edited on paper, if the key points can be extracted. A story may even be reduced to a single paragraph if time is very short.

Items are selected by their importance and relevance, and to provide a balanced mix of the news. Several paragraphs from the the sport pages are often chosen, forming a short summary of the main points. A number of small related or unrelated news articles may also be read together.

After a brief musical introduction, the Team Leader reads the announcements, notices, listener birthdays, details of new listeners and the times of sunset and sunrise (lighting-up times). The news follows, usually beginning with the main front page story from the Times and Citizen. Each volunteer then reads his or her articles in turn.

About half way through there is a brief summary of obituaries, prepared ahead by the Team Leader, and marked in alphabetical order. For brevity, only name, age (if given) and place of recent abode (again, if known) are included. After the obituaries, general news reports resume.

Copying the / USB Memory sticks

Photo of a black metal copier with 16 USB memory sticks plugged into the front.  Part of an audio tape duplicator is also shown behind left When the recording is complete, the technician / recordist carries out the editing and mastering as described above. This is usually completed on Monday evening. Copying takes place on Tuesday and the copies are taken to the sorting office on Tuesday afternoon for delivery free of charge to listeners thanks to the Articles for the Blind postal concession.

Photo of five volunteers - duplicating, checking and packing news programme wallets, photographed on 24th November 2011
Left: An industrious post-recording scene - clockwise from middle person in black: copying tapes and memory sticks, spot-checking memory sticks, checking cassettes and on the left, putting tapes and sticks into listeners' wallets

The Journey to Listeners.

Most listeners will receive their CD or USB stick within one to three days, and as BDAN uses the two sets of wallets (yellow and black), listeners can keep their USB stick for several days before posting it back. The CD's are non returnable and can be recycled.

An archive copy is retained by BDAN each week.

The current issue of the Newspaper is available on the BDAN web-site and is changed every Tuesday morning. Click on the large yellow button in the middle of the home page to listen. The file can be streamed or saved using a computer or mobile phone with internet access.

Recordist with headphones operates the mixer to record three readers in the BDAN studio.  Picture used by permission of Times and Citizen
Recordist, Jack Stevens, adjusts the controls with Judy Knudsen, Roy Purser (then Chairman) and Kathleen Dee pictured reading, on 30th August 1991

Image courtesy Bedfordshire Times and Citizen - photographer: Pete Felstead

Explore the BDAN site...

Downloadable output - Hear the current BDAN weekly news recording by clicking on the large yellow button in the middle of the home page.

Interested in getting involved - as a listener or volunteer? Or are you a former member of BDAN? - See the Get Involved page

Interested in more about BDAN's past achievements? visit the History page

Looking to interview someone from BDAN, or book a speaker for your event? See Get Involved

Looking for another Talking Newspaper or local organisation? Try the BDAN Links page

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