Opening your eyes to the value of sight
As you read this, you’re probably not giving much thought to the activity itself.
Everyday pastimes like reading the newspaper or catching up with the latest news and views on The Punch we tend to take for granted.
But just take a second to think what impact it would have on your life if, for some reason, you were no longer able to indulge in these simple pleasures. What would you miss out on?
Are you a news hound or do opinion pieces get you fired up? Perhaps celebrity gossip or restaurant reviews are more to your taste? Maybe you like keeping up to date with new technology or the latest real estate hotspots?
Whatever your interest, newspapers and websites provide a wealth of information and food for thought. What would you do if you couldn’t read the paper or log on to The Punch? More importantly, how would that make you feel?
For tens of thousands of Australians, that is the reality. They are people who have eyesight problems or perhaps some other disability which prevents them from reading. That can lead to feelings of isolation and insulation; of inadequacy and impotence.
You may know someone in this position. Perhaps you have an elderly relative who has lost their sight to a condition like retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration.
Their inability to read doesn’t mean they’re not interested in the latest news from the world around them and while there are other sources of information, most mediums simply don’t have the capacity to cover news and issues in depth like a newspaper or website can.
Magazines and their online counterparts provide more comprehensive coverage and detailed features on people and events of interest to a level unmatched by other outlets.
From single interest titles to traditional staples like the Australian Women’s Weekly, Australia has a magazine publishing industry the equal of any other country and the envy of most of them. However, the contents of these publications are out of reach for those thousands of Australians who are print handicapped.
Having someone read to them is the obvious solution. That’s great in theory, but many people in this group live alone. Or the people they live with simply don’t have the time to devote to the task. That’s where Sydney’s reading radio station, 2RPH, comes in and why its role is so important.
Staffed almost exclusively by volunteers, 2RPH reads major daily newspapers on air at a set time each day, allowing people unable to read for themselves to get their daily news fix.
It’s not simply a newsreading service, as the dedicated presenters read the opinion pages, letters to the editor, the business section, sport, gossip, fashion, food, real estate and more.
And it’s not just for people who are prevented from reading by some physical disability, many people listen because they just don’t have the time to sit down and read the paper for themselves.
Magazines are also a cornerstone of 2RPH programming, with regular readings from titles ranging from New Idea to New Statesman to the New Yorker. The breadth of topics and publications broadcast is simply extraordinary.
This all adds up to a vital service for thousands of people who rely on them for their connection to the outside world, providing content from their favourite publications without an external agenda. Yet the network lives hand to mouth, surviving on a modicum of government support, supplemented by memberships, sponsorships and donations.
It relies on the goodwill and generosity of its benefactors and its volunteers to ensure that some of the most vulnerable in our society don’t miss out on the enjoyment, education and entertainment provided through the written word.
Today is World Sight Day, a global initiative to raise awareness of the causes of blindness and vision impairment and the preventative measures.
So as you consider how you might deal with a loss of vision, you can help to ensure that 2RPH continues its support of those Australians who can’t – for whatever reason - read for themselves.
As well as being relayed to Newcastle, 2RPH is part of a national network, with sibling stations providing comparable services in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Hobart. All these entities face similar funding challenges. For more information about becoming a member, a sponsor or a donor, visit our website at www.2rph.org.au.
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