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The Observer on Tape - Talking Magazine Project

This is a highly work/time intensive volunteer project operated by Eastminster United Church of Belleville Ontario and their AOTS Men’s Club and Sanctioned by The National AOTS.

How Does It work?
Each month an advance copy of THE OBSERVER is received and read onto three ninety minute audio cassette tapes. Pictures associated with the Articles are described to help bring the articles to life. A high speed copier is then used to produce the required number of tapes to be sent out to our subscribers.

The tapes are packed in a special mailing pouch that are then sent to subscribers across Canada postage free courtesy of Canada Post. This special arrangement is extended only to visually impaired persons, thus we cannot honour requests for these tapes for non visually impaired persons.

After listening to the tapes, the subscriber reverses the mailing label on the pouch, and returns the tapes in the pouch, postage free, for reuse. The subsequent Observer tapes are only sent to those that have returned the previous tapes.

There are no subscription costs for this service. We have been fortunate to have been able to cover our operating costs from generous donations received from some of our appreciative listeners. Charitable receipts are issued to individual donors.

History of the Project:
The Observer on Tape Project was started by the Disabled Committee in Winnipeg in 1983. In early 1985, when the chairperson of the group moved from the area, they were no longer able to carry on with the project. At this time, the National AOTS was challenged to take over the project. Jack Arthur, Central Vice-President of the National AOTS, presented the challenge to Queen St. United Church AOTS, Kingston, Ontario, whose president Armando Del Gobbo was himself blind.

In July of 1985, Queen St. AOTS took over the project, and has carried it from 45 subscribers for their first issue (July 1985) to nearly 400 in 1994. Early in 1997 the Queen St. Club regretfully found that they were unable to continue with this project. Subsequently responsibility for this project was assumed by Eastminster United Church AOTS, Belleville, Ontario. To-day the Men’s Club ably assisted by other members of the congregation are pleased to make the Observer on Tape available to the visually impaired.

User Equipment:
Tape playing equipment is available without charge, from the C.N.I.B., to any visually impaired person who is registered with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Inexpensive cassette tape playing equipment is also available from Department, Electronic, and Radio Stores.

The National AOTS Office is grateful and proud of the Queen St. AOTS Club, and Church for their devotion to this Project from 1985 to early 1997.

We also appreciate that the Eastminster AOTS Club has responded to the challenge, and are devoting their time and energy in this fine example of living “AS ONE THAT SERVES”

To support with a donation, to subscribe, or for further information, contact:
Eastminster United Church AOTS Men’s Club, 432 Bridge Street East, Belleville, ON K8N 1R1

The Observer on Tape Project involves transcribing the United Church Observer on audio cassette tapes and circulating them free of charge, to visually impaired persons

The Future of the Observer on Tape Project:
As cassette players are wearing out and becoming harder to replace it is time to start thinking about other possible solutions to offer this great service. I am presently researching the possibility of also offering the Observer on Tape in other formats like CDs, sound audio players and MP3 download.

Right now we can convert the cassette tapes into MP3 files and burn them onto CDs but as we get more and more orders it will be important to invest in a CD duplicator. These duplicators can be found for under a $1,000 and will help us to quickly produce the one or two CDs per subscriber.

Having this in a digital format gives us more possibilities of serving a larger community. I would like to take the digital data and produce an online podcast version for the United Church Observer that could be downloaded off of the website. This service could be offered free to the Observer subscribers. Non- subscribers may be charged a minimal fee in order to create a larger reader base. I am sure there are lots of people that are stuck in a car for hours a day wishing that they could finish reading an article in the Observer and be able to play it on their car stereo, iPod or MP3 player.

If anyone has any, comments suggestions or direction on a project of this type could you please comment or email me directly

Thank you again to Eastminster United Church in Belleville Ontario for all that they do to serve.

If you would like some more information on the project please contact:
John Babiak, President of Eastminster AOTS Men's Club in Belleville

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