Stephen’s connection with radio began behind the mic in the 1970’s on the ABC community access station, 3ZZ, as a presenter with “A Blind Affair”, one of the earliest programs for vision impaired people in Australia.
He soon broadened his focus to sector funding and development and was a founding member of the Australian Council for Radio for the Print Handicapped (ACRPH), later RPH Australia, serving from 1981 to 2009 and with two terms as Chair.
Stephen’s commitment to funding support for the growing RPH movement continued through long association with the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF), serving on the CBF Board from 1991 to 2000 as well as on committees supporting RPH broadcasting, digital and online development, and training.
He is a current member of the Sector Investment Advisory Committee.
In 1994, Stephen joined Vision Australia (then the Association for the Blind) and for 15 years led their radio service as it grew from a single Melbourne based metro station,3RPH, to 8 stations across regional Victoria and NSW.
Today, the Vision Australia Radio network of ten stations extends across Victoria and southern New South Wales, Adelaide and Perth, with the digital radio service, IRIS in Melbourne and Adelaide.
Stephen is widely recognised for his advocacy and contribution to the development of RPH services and has received the Blind Citizens Australia David Blyth Award in 1996, the Alex Johnson Award from the Victorian Blind Workers Union in 1989, and in 2015 was honoured by Vision Australia for his significant contribution to the blindness and low vision community.
In 2009, Stephen received the CBAA’s Michael Law Award for a sustained and outstanding contribution by an individual to community broadcasting.
Pursuing his life-long love of radio, Stephen still volunteers with Vision Australia Radio, co-presenting the national weekly radio program ‘Talking Tech’ focussing on developments in mainstream and assistive technology from the perspectives of blindness and low vision.
Stephen says “As information platforms, such as the internet, develop, we must make sure that people who cannot visually read are not left behind. There will always be a place for audio services giving access to information to people with a print disability. Whether delivered via radio programs or podcasts, on mobile, satellite, radio or online platforms, Radio Reading services change lives.”.
Chair, RPH Australia, Vaughn Bennison, says “Stephen Jolley’s passionate commitment to the Radio Reading movement makes him the ideal first Ambassador for RPH Australia.”