NCBI launches Ireland’s first dedicated radio station for blind and vision impaired listeners

This promotional image includes an NCBI service user who is holding a smart phone and is listening to audio through a pair of headphones which he is wearing. It includes the text: NCBI Live, Ireland's first radio station for blind and vision impaired listeners.

NCBI is delighted to recently launch Ireland’s first radio station for blind and vision-impaired listeners.

What is NCBI Live?

Broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, NCBI Live is an online radio station where you can listen to the very best audio content produced by NCBI. It covers all aspects of living with sight loss, from technology available, to issues affecting the sight loss community to individual’s sharing their own stories and experiences. Tune in and you will hear content from the NCBI Podcast, Talking Technology Podcast, and Advocacy Talks, as well as information about NCBI’s services and campaigns.

How was it formed?

NCBI Live is the brainchild of two Service Users David Redmond and Patrick Hennessy. Currently the content is all pre-recorded, but this platform has the potential to grow and expand significantly to include live interviews, playing requests and much more.

David Redmond, who is a broadcaster and radio industry writer from Cork, has said:

“NCBI has a massive catalogue of audio content, and has been increasing that production especially through the Covid pandemic. From there, NCBI Live started to come together. So we pitched the idea, got it in front of the right people, and started working on the concept for the last couple of months now, it’s actually been nearly a year in the works.”

Endless possibilities

“The possibilities are truly endless. When we made the pitch ages ago, we were quite conscious of some of the stuff that had been done in the UK, our counterparts in RNIB have had a station, fully staffed now, for many years. They’re at the top of their game, everything from fashion-related shows, talk shows, a general breakfast show, but they’ve used it in so many different ways, and it’s created not just a service for visually impaired people, but people listen to it like they might listen to any other station, really.

“We’re absolutely starting small, our only real costs at the moment are just to support the cloud-based system that we’re paying for. But outside of that, we don’t have any staff dedicated, I’m working as a volunteer on the project, Patrick is a volunteer on the project, and then the rest are just people that we’ve pulled in from the tech team or from the communications team. There is endless potential. If we could work out a sustainable funding model for it down the road, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be used to have live talk shows and so on.

“Even to use it as a training ground where, for a lot of people who are visually impaired, radio is a very accessible medium, because it’s audio-based. There is no reason why we couldn’t potentially use it as a training facility or something like that down the road to help people learn effective communication skills, and so on. We’re working with it slowly, slowly growing it over time, walking before we can run, and who knows what the future will bring.”

How do I listen to NCBI Live?

NCBI Live can be accessed directly through the NCBI website or through the NCBI Smart Hub which is activated using a smart speaker such as Alexa or Google. You can launch the myNCBI skill by saying “Alexa, open my NCBI” and, once it launches, you can say “play NCBI Live”.