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Project information

New for Old – replacing outdated equipment

The idea is that we want to replace 120 of our out-dated specially adapted internet audio players, currently out on loan with visually impaired users, with new model sets.

February 2015 - December 2015

Charity information: British Wireless for the Blind Fund

British Wireless for the Blind Fund logo
  • Need


    First issued by British Wireless in 2007, the ‘Sonata’ wireless internet audio player gave visually impaired people access to radio stations worldwide, podcasts, talking newspapers & books, audio catalogues and other web-based audio content. Changing technology has resulted in this set being superseded. As it is not possible to upgrade its hardware, nor is it economically viable to replace it, we need to replace all the remaining out-dated ‘Sonata’ sets before they become unsupportable.


    The next generation model, the ‘Sonata Plus’ (issued since 2012) has its own in-built text-to-speech engine (instead of using a cloud based system) and a Linux operating system which allows upgrades and new functions to be downloaded and installed. This means that sets will have a much longer operational life. By replacing 120 old model sets, we can eliminate the looming problem of memory and audio format issues which will cause a 40% drop in available content over the next few years.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Replace 120 out-dated audio players


    » Identified users of old model sets will be contacted by our relevent Regional Development Manager and a visit arranged to install a new set

    What success will look like

    Success will be when all 120 set have been funded and replaced

    Aim 2

    Ensure our set recipients are not disadvantaged by changing technology


    » By replacing out-of-date sets with new models, users will automatically have access to the same content as all the other Sonata Plus users

    What success will look like

    Users of replacement sets will be phoned in the few months after installation to check they are happy with their new sets

    Aim 3

    Provide 120 beneficiaries with access to e-books and live-webpages available through the Sonata Plus


    » This content will automatically become available once new sets are installed and operational

    What success will look like

    Following installation of the new set, this content will automatically be available. Usage can be monitored.

  • Impact


    The main long-term change is that the new Sonata Plus sets have a longer operational life as they will be able to receive and install upgrades. Additionally, because of their new technology, they will be less needy in terms of technical support than the old sets. Success will be when all users are receiving the same level of content and service and there are few complaints with either the sets or the service.


    As we are using already available technology and as there are already many existing users of the Sonata Plus set, any problems have already been ironed out. There should be minimal risk, particularly as, for the user, the operation of the set is the same.


    As requested

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £58,080

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £30,000 Capital purchase Purchase cost of 120 Sonata Plus units
      £15,000 Service charge Annual service charge for 5 years
      £6,660 Installation & set-up RDM installation expenses (mileage) & set-up costs
      £6,420 Info & help Instructions, information and phone help

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Grants £968 Guaranteed
    Donations £1,452 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Beneficiaries are UK wide


    120 blind or partially sighted users of this simple to operated internet audio player specially designed for use by those who have lost their sight, will benefit from a replacement model.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are the only charity providing specially adapted radios and audio players on free loan to those in need.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    David Beard

    The project will be co-ordinated and managed by David Beard, who heads the Sonata technical service team. He has 3 years of experience on Sonata

    4 Regional Development Managers

    The Regional Development Managers have the skill and experience in installing the sets