The rollout of the new Sonata Plus+ radios has now been completed thanks to grants from the Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Wolfson Foundation.
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity present a cheque Keith Clancy Sonata Plus+
More than 120 British Wireless recipients have now received their new Sonata Plus+ radios.
Thanks to grants of £47,500 from the Freemasons’ Grand Charity and £2,500 from the Wolfson Foundation, we have been able to replace the outdated Sonata models with a new version.
We also received some smaller grants from other trusts and foundations and money from donors towards the rollout, which has benefited 125 people.
This was a special, one-off project which we would not have been able to achieve without this funding.
The original Sonata was launched in 2007 and was the first set of its kind to give visually impaired people access to worldwide radio stations, podcasts, talking newspapers, books and magazines and other audio web content through a simple to use piece of equipment.
It was designed for use without a computer, using just a broadband connection and five buttons.
However as the gap in technology widened, the sets became progressively unsupportable, but upgrading the hardware wasn’t possible and as we couldn’t change it, replacing the sets was the only feasible option.
By replacing our existing users’ Sonata sets with the Sonata Plus+, we have given them access to an enhanced and much improved audio service and experience.
The new radio supports the latest wireless internet connections and its in-built text-to-speech engine can read audio content from live web pages.
It has automatic wireless set-up, meaning there is no need for long and complicated passwords to be manually entered.
A USB socket has also been added so users can enjoy their choice of audio, such as talking newspapers, books and magazines in that format too.
The wireless connection is also much more stable than in the original and because the reading function is in-built, it does not need an internet connection to work.
The changes have been beneficial to both users and also the team at BWBF as it has allowed them to provide an improved technical support service.
It has been very well received by our recipients.
London resident Keith Clancy was the first person to receive the new model.
He said: “When radio became internet that was really interesting for me. The new Sonata has a much more powerful internet connection which allows me to use it in any rooms in my home.
“It boosts up very quickly and the remote control is slick and fast. I can listen to radio stations from all over the planet in a very accessible way.
“It’s extremely useful.”
BWBF’s Trust Officer Frances Fielding thanked all the organisations and individual donors for their funding.
Peter Rodd, Head of Charity at East Kent Freemasons, said: “We are delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile and effective project.
“British Wireless makes a real difference to the lives of those whose vision is impaired.
“Their work directly compliments our declared aim which is to invest in a brighter future for those in need in our communities.”