By John Simpson
Since 1992, BCA has produced SoundAbout, an audio magazine containing interviews and information of interest to our members. For nearly thirty years, SoundAbout has provided local, state-specific and nationally significant information which has informed, entertained and challenged its listeners.
At this point in our organisation’s development though, we acknowledge that use of technology among people who are blind or vision impaired has become more widespread, and avenues for receiving information are increasing. So at its face-to-face meeting held in July, the board made the difficult but necessary decision to discontinue SoundAbout in its current form while we consider next steps.
Steve Richardson, who has been involved in the production and coordination of SoundAbout since the mid 90’s offers this reflection:
“SoundAbout was introduced in the 1990s as a way to share state-based information with members. Rather than being presented from the perspective of the national office, these audio newsletters were a presentation of various branches of BCA. The world wide web was only in its infancy, and communication over long distance was still sometimes unreliable and expensive. So members often relied on the very important information provided by local branches about their upcoming activities, advocacy, or state government changes that might affect blind and vision impaired people.
It was felt that a radio-style format magazine, featuring interviews with key people around the organization would be a more informal and friendly way to disseminate information to members. It was also a great training ground for those interested in developing interview and presentation skills, and learning the fine art of editing and producing a recorded program.
Members originally received their quarterly SoundAbout on cassette, and I remember one of the important announcements I had to make as the presenter of SoundAbout Queensland, was to remind listeners to make sure their cassette was fully rewound when finished with, and to turn over the address label before sending back. We actually had to produce two parts in those days, a “Side A” and a “Side B”, and these had to be well organised and precisely timed to around 43 minutes.”
On behalf of members, board and staff, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the dedicated team of members who have researched information, sourced and conducted interviews and edited the production to ensure that SoundAbout has been produced professionally and on time for nearly 30 years. In particular, I want to pay tribute to the creator of the SoundAbout concept, Stephen Jolley, and to acknowledge the contribution of Dale Simpson, who produced the magazine over many years. The production of an audio magazine is a time-consuming process, and requires a significant and ongoing commitment. We thank all those who have given up their time and energy to consistently provide us with relevant and helpful information.
We will now take the time to reflect on what our current communications channels offer, and where the gaps are, so we can ensure that the current information needs of people who are blind or vision impaired continue to be met. In the mean-time, a reminder that we continue to produce our weekly radio program and podcast, “New Horizons”, this publication, “Blind Citizens News”, our E-mail list, “BCA-L”, our website, and social media feeds.
We welcome your feedback on what you would like us to consider, whether it be a new communications channel, or content suggestions for our current offerings. So whether or not you are a BCA member, please get in touch and share your thoughts with us.