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

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How to Get Involved with B.D.A.N.

Revised: May 2013

Quick in-page links:

- Become a listener - click here

- Prospective volunteers and current vacancies - click here

- Donating money or equipment to BDAN - click here

- Talks, Publicity and Media enquiries - click here

- Feedback, former members and the AGM - click here

- Key facts about BDAN - click here

- Contact details for any enquiries - click here

Might you, or someone you know, benefit from BDAN's free USB sticks* or tapes? A relative, friend or neighbour with sight problems or a disability that makes holding a newspaper difficult?

* USB sticks are small digital storage devices, also known as pen, thumb, flash or memory drives or discs

Do you have a spare two to three hours every few weeks?

Would you like to give something back to your local community and meet new people in the process?

Are you interested in audio recording and production?
(no previous experience required)

Are you as an individual, business or organisation looking for a truly local charity to assist?

If you answered "Yes" to one or more of the above questions, then why not make contact with BDAN - Bedford and District Audio News - the Talking Newspaper for the Bedford area, UK.

A picture of volunteers, listeners and members of the public enjoying a hearty fundraising meal at Biddenham Village Hall

Volunteers, listeners and members of the public alike, enjoy good company, warm weather and fine fare at the charity's second annual summer lunch and raffle at Biddenham, a few miles east of Bedford, in 2005


BDAN USB sticks* and cassettes currently reach around 180 people, but there are an estimated one thousand other residents in and around Bedford who could also benefit from the free service! Do you know of anyone who might be interested in receiving the programmes? Young or old, BDAN material is suitable for all.

* USB sticks are small digital storage devices, also known as pen, thumb, flash or memory drives or discs

Most current listeners live locally - in north and mid Bedfordshire - but some are located further afield, across the UK. These listeners have a link or association with Bedford, but for any number of reasons now live elsewhere.

If you, or someone you know, is blind or partially sighted and who would like to keep up to date with news from Bedford - no matter where you / they live in the UK - please make contact with BDAN.

Don't worry if you, or the person you are enquiring for, already subscribes to a free Talking Newspaper, you / they will be able to take BDAN material as well - also, free of charge.

A digital copy of BDAN news is available on this website, and can be accessed for free by anyone. Qualifying listeners making use of this method are advised to make contact with BDAN so that their birthday can be included on the appropriate week!


All new listeners receive a specialy recorded 30 minute introductory programme. This provides a welcome to BDAN, with information about the service and its history.
Image showing two readers and a technician in the studio at the recording of a new Introductory cassette, February 2007

Above: Recording an Introductory tape in February 2007

USB sticks offer better quality and reliability, and are recommended. However, cassettes are also available.

To avoid possible problems, all listeners are advised to:

1) Check that the player is correctly powered with volume adjusted

2) Make sure that the USB stick or tape is fully inserted into the slot

4) For cassettes, a pre-payback check should be made to ensure that the actual magnetic tape hasn't spooled out.

4) That 'Play' has been pressed and for tapes, that the 'Record' or 'Pause' buttons are not accidentally depressed

Unlike the weekly tape - which should be returned within several days - listeners may keep the Introductory tape until they are confident with the news tape process.

A photograph of listener, Vera Rust, with her raffle prize winnings - a basket of fruit and a box of chocolates.  Other event attendees are pictured behind, with pink carnations in the foreground

Vera Rust, a listener since the very first tape in 1978, with her winning raffle prizes at the 2008 BDAN autumn fundraising lunch, held at Putnoe Heights Church, Bedford


The charity is always interested to hear from prospective volunteer members and / or supporters. There are numerous roles available, from technical to administrative, reading to fundraising. In fact, some volunteers undertake a variety of tasks.

Reading is be the most popular task, but have you considered the role of sorting the returned wallets from the previous week, or how about helping on the committee - there are only four scheduled meetings per year. All these tasks and more are vital to the effective operation of BDAN. And you can always change your job or do more than one task.

Organising - Preparing - Reading - Recording - Copying

There is no charge or annual membership fee to join. BDAN is an equal opportunities charity - people of all backgrounds are welcome, and locally born and bred just as much as those who have moved to the area.
(Please note: the charity normally suggests a minimum age of 18 years for volunteers)

Do you have experience of any of the following...

- Audio recording or mixing (for example, at a church or theatre)
- Reading to others or public speaking
- Fundraising or committee work
- Electronics
- Desktop publishing, marketing or computer skills

If not, in fact whatever skills you possess, you are equally welcome to make contact as any necessary training can be provided.

Portrait photograph of the late Dennis Craddock holding a collecting tin in front of a BDAN stall in 2007 A photograph of three volunteers sorting returned tapes in the studio

There's more to BDAN than reading news:
Above: Volunteers checking returned cassettes and wallets, and left: promoting the charity

Starter tips for new readers

Prospective readers are normally invited to attend an initial informal meeting at the studio some days ahead of a first recording session.

Reading in front of a microphone can be daunting at first. Hopefully the new volunteer will quickly find his / her feet with the support of the Team Leader and other members.

Past new volunteers have found the following advice useful:
- Be yourself
- Try not to read too quickly or too slowly
- Check articles through ahead (for mistakes and pronunciation)
- Mention accompanying photographs with the text, if relevant
- A glass of water is useful to prevent a dry throat (tap water - as well as lavatory facilities - are available in the studio building)

To hear a weekly Audio News edition, go to the Listen page on this site. Other audio clips are available on the Meet Volunteers page

Two BDAN volunteers shown packing cassettes into pouches ready for dispatch

BDAN volunteers in the 1980s - packing cassette pouches ready to send to listeners

If you would like to be involved with the production of weekly news tapes / sticks on a regular basis - and a suitable vacancy occurs - all you need do is to be able to spare a couple of hours every six weeks. There is also a small 'pool' of standby volunteers, who can be called upon if a team has a temporary vacancy - for example, if a regular reader, sorter or recordist cannot attend a session.

Many volunteers find relief duties a useful way to begin - working with any of the six different teams as needed.

New recordist / technicians work in pairs or more. Full training is provided, including 'shadowing' an existing operator.


Members and supporters also receive a free thrice-yearly newsletter with information about the charity's fundraising and social events. The publication can be sent by email or post.

Donations - Personal, Organisation and Business

As well as giving your time, another way to support BDAN is through a monetary donation. Large or small, any such gift is very much appreciated.

BDAN is a registered charity (no. 802814) but recieves no money from the UK Government or the National Lottery. The basic recording equipment requires regular maintenance to keep it in full working order. And of course there are replacement cassettes and pouches to purchase and rent to pay for the studio space.

From a few pence in a home collecting tin, to a regular gift, or an amount of money in a will or legacy, if you are looking for a local cause to support, then why not consider Bedford and District Audio News?

Feedback from a listener (2007) which reads: 'Many Thanks'

Left: Feedback received from a BDAN listener

If your business or organisation requires further information or would like to make a corporate donation, please do make contact.

The charity accepts cheques - please make donations payable to 'BDAN'.

Please note however, BDAN is unable to provide commercial advertising on its output.

Collecting Boxes

The charity can supply collection tins on request. Perhaps you have a growing amount of copper coinage that you do not know what to do with. Why not have a BDAN collecting box to remedy the problem?!

Bedford and District Audio News is also registered with HM Government for Gift Aid. If you are a UK taxpayer paying Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax, the charity can currently reclaim 28 pence for every 1.00 (GBP) you donate in a tax year. For a Gift Aid Declaration form, contact BDAN.

Donating Equipment or Services

If your company or business could offer the charity a service or item of equipment for free, please get in touch. From old recording or broadcast equipment, to small items of furniture or help with, for example, printing or photocopying.
Sadly however, the charity cannot accept - for technical reasons - an offer of spare, used or unused, audio cassettes.

Cash For Cartridges
Recycle and help Bedford's Talking Newspaper!

BDAN has entered into an agreement with a company to collect and recycle used inkjet printer cartridges made by Hewlett Packard (HP) and Lexmark.

Bedford and District Audio News will receive 1.00 (GBP) for every cartridge submited! If you, or any friends or family are UK residents and would like to participate - especially if you or they work where a substantial number of cartridges are used (!) - please get in touch with the Chairman (contact details below) for Freepost envelopes from the company. The process shouldn't cost you a penny, helps the environment, and supports BDAN at the same time! Why not have a look to see if you have any old HP or Lexmark cartridges?

An image showing two BDAN volunteers standing behind a small table with BDAN display boards behind
Left: promoting the charity - manning the charity's stall at a disability awareness event at the Harpur Suite, Bedford, 2006

Talks, Press and Publicity

If your society, club, school, college, business, lunch / supper club or fundraising group would like to support Bedford and District Audio News, why not get in touch. The charity may be able to offer a free speaker or representative with a stall and display boards.

If your business, shop, library, school, college, GP surgery, residential home, community centre or church requires a supply of free promotional A4 or A5 leaflets / posters, just ask.

Requests to mention or establish a weblink to the BDAN site, should be made via the contact details below. No part of the site (including photographs and audio files) should be copied to another medium (including a website) without permission.

If you are a member of the press or a broadcasting organisation, the charity will endeavour to assist you, such as providing copy, comment, information or interviewees. High quality copies of our photographs and audio are also available. For all media enquiries, please contact the Chairman in the first instance, and as far in advance as possible.

Feedback and AGM

The charity welcomes feedback about its activities, recordings and website. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or queries, please make contact.

BDAN holds an Annual General Meeting each spring (usually May). Listeners, volunteers, donors and members of the public and press are all welcome to attend. Motions for debate and nominations for Committee positions must be made in advance to the Secretary (who can be contacted via the details below).

An image showing two volunteers sitting at the studio recording desk in November 2011.  Photo taken by the Times and Citizen newspaper

Chairman, David Mitchell and Senior Recordist and Technician, Steve Eaton, discuss BDAN matters, pictured in the studio, November 2011

Image courtesy Times and Citizen - photographer: June Essex

Data Protection

All personal information is stored securely and details are never given to third parties unless specifically requested by the individual listener or volunteer concerned.

Former Helpers or Listeners

If you are a former member, supporter or listener (or a relative or carer of such a person) and you have copies of old BDAN recordings, cine film or video, photographs, papers, publicity material, information or indeed memories that you would like to share with / loan the charity, please get in touch.

Getting Involved - Key Facts

Blind, partially sighted or physically disabled - specifically in and around Bedford, but anywhere in the UK

News / Newspapers used:
Bedford's Times and Citizen, Bedfordshire on Sunday (BoS), Bedford Midweek (BoS publication)

Format and length of material:
60 mins (90 mins for Magazine). Available on either:
USB stick (small digital storage devices, also known as pen, thumb, flash or memory drives or discs)
Standard audio tape cassette
Weekly news also available to hear / download from this website

Language of output:

Cost to receive:
No charge. Service is free

BDAN Funding
Donations and volunteer work. BDAN is a registered charity

Age range of listeners:
All ages

Number of listeners:
Currently around 180

Volunteer jobs available:
Various - including sorting tapes / sticks, collecting mail sacks, fundraising, reading articles and technical operation.
All unpaid volunteer posts

Experience required (for volunteers):
None - anything relevant is a bonus

Annual fee to join as a volunteer helper:
No charge. Membership is free

Time required:
No minimum. Mostly several hours every six weeks or so if a regular volunteer. Less if a standby helper or other supporter

Day of recording:
Usually a Thursday evening for the weekly news, between 6.30pm and around 9.0pm. Magazine readers recorded separately, and times arranged on an individual basis

Number of volunteers:
Currently around 60

Age range of volunteers:
Usually over 18 years of age

Cost of a BDAN speaker / presentation (for an event):
No charge. Collection for the charity welcomed

Social Opportunites:
Fundraising events, meal for committee members, individual meals / get togethers as / if arranged by weekly reading teams

An image showing three smiling volunteers sitting at a table in the studio, checking returned tapes and USB memory sticks against the master register of listeners

Volunteers at work in the small BDAN studio, October 2011

Contacting the charity

How to get in touch with B.D.A.N.

Telephone the Chairman, David Mitchell
on 01234 218989

or the Treasurer, Janet Cook
on 01234 301074

(Answerphones available)

or e-mail: mail (at)
(Please add 'BDAN ENQUIRY' in the subject heading)

BDAN aims to respond to all messages within several working days. However, in the unlikely event that you have not heard back within two weeks, please call or email your message again, as it is likely a technical problem has occurred.

Please mention this website
when you make contact by 'phone or email!

For details of other Talking Newspaper groups
and other local and national websites and services,
please see Links - accessed via the Index page

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