Talking newspapers end

It was the end of an era on Friday, when talking newspapers for the vision impaired in Cooma went digital.

Peter Schaeffer has co-ordinated volunteers who read and record the two local newspapers, the Cooma-Monaro Express, and more recently, the Monaro Post, onto cassette, so the vision impaired can hear all the local news. Human voices will now be replaced by 'synthetic technology in recording the local newspapers.

The service was started by the manager of the Cooma-Monaro Express Les Reidy 16 years ago, when his wife became vision impaired.

Mr Schaeffer took over from Mr Reidy in 2005, and has co-ordinated the volunteer roster for the past eight-and-a-half years.

"It all started on the 19th September 1997 when Les Reidy's wife started to lose her sight," Mr Schaeffer said.

"Les became ill in July 2005. I visited him at the Cooma Hospital and he asked me to take over.

"He died the next morning and I've been doing it ever since."

Mr Schaeffer is not entirely sad to see the end of the voice recording onto cassette tapes which see two editions of the Cooma-Monaro Express and the Monaro Post read by volunteers and recorded onto audio cassettes every Friday.

"A lot of us are over 80, we're one of the last to go digital," Mr Schaeffer said.

Mr Schaeffer paid tribute to the volunteers who have narrated and produced the talking newspapers over the years and made a special mention of the first volunteers, Barbara Shand, Betty Braden, Vivienne Downing, Margaret Studley, Tony MacKenzie and his late wife Annette Schaeffer.

The cassette recording of the local newspapers will now be replaced with a CD version, using 'synthetic voice technology' and sent directly to clients.

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