Episodes

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20181218

At the age of 14, Israel Martin’s life was on the verge of going off the rails. Growing up in Newham in East London, Israel was a member of a gang which committed crime and got involved in fights. When he started to lose his sight, his life changed, but not as he would have originally expected it to.
Our reporter, Tom Walker, has been speaking to Israel at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford.

Also, Peter White meets visually impaired dancer, Janet Salt from South Manchester. Janet led a very busy life until she started to experience depression. Janet tells Peter about how, with the help of ballroom dancing, she regained her confidence.

Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Tom Walker

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted.

20181225

Dame Joan Plowright was discovered as a stage actor in the late 1950s before going on to have a stellar career – starring in The Country Wife, A Taste of Honey and as Saint Joan. She became Lady Olivier on marrying Sir Laurence Olivier in 1961. They were married until his death in 1989. Dame Joan took parts in film and television production up until 2014 when her worsening eyesight compelled her to retire.

She lives in her home in Sussex where she and Sir Laurence came to live once he had retired. She openly speaks of her career, her life with her husband and family and her attitude towards her failing sight.

Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Lee Kumutat

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted.

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News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted.

Books For The New Year20190101

Three audiobook recommendations to kick off your New Year's reading.

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted

Calls For Vat-free Ebooks20181211

Due to a long fought-for change by member states to EU legislation, the UK government now has discretionary powers to abolish VAT on all ebooks. The CEO of the Publishers’ Association says that no VAT would help people on low incomes including some visually-impaired people for whom these are essential.

Reporter Tom Walker looks in to why Ofcom ruled that a London shock jock overstepped the mark when he derided a visually-impaired man for wanting to be the first person to train with a guide-horse in the UK.

Tom Walker also asks Allan Tweddle, a candidate in the recent local elections, whether a grant for aspiring visually-impaired politicians which is to be-reinstated in 2019, would have been of use to him.

In Your Pocket, a one-buttoned smartphone, will now be able to video call with a volunteer assistant. Roger Wilson-Hinds tells us why In Your Pocket and Be My Eyes app are teaming up.

Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Lee Kumutat
Reporter: Tom Walker

Publishers call for VAT to be abolished on digitally-downloaded books.

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted

Campus Cuts At Blind College20190312

The Royal National College for the Blind has sold its southern campus to Herefordshire Council. Peter asks why did it have to be sold, and why did the council want to buy it?

After 25 years of providing services to visually-impaired people in Merseyside, Henshaws Society for the Blind is moving out of Liverpool. Henshaws' director of community services tells us why.

Jo Parsons used to be a chef before retiring to Devon a few years ago. She has not stopped cooking though, setting up a pudding club in her local community, to fund cooking lessons for aspiring visually-impaired cooks.

Yuen Har Tse is taking Aviva Financial UK to court for discrimination for not providing her correspondence in a format she can read. She tells us why she has taken this step.

Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Lee Kumutat

Specialist college sells half its site. VI chef teaches VI novices to cook.

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted

Delays To Access To Work; Guide Dogs Guide A Visually Impaired Runner In Half Marathon20190326

Richard Kramer, the chief executive of Sense, a charity that supports people who have a hearing and visual impairment, tells Peter White about his concerns over the delays in appointing a minister for disabled people, following the resignation of Sarah Newton MP nearly a fortnight ago.

Peter White talks to Kerry Fielding, a visually-impaired woman from Blackpool, who is experiencing significant delays with her application to Access to Work for specialist equipment to enable her to take up a new job in customer services.

Peter also speaks to Thomas Panek, the president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Instead of being guided by sighted runners, Thomas recently completed the United New York half-marathon using a relay of three guide dogs.

Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Tom Walker

Delays to Access to Work and guide dogs guide a visually impaired runner in half marathon.

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted

Is Helen Keller A 20th Century Icon?20190115

Icons is an epic new history series for BBC Two profiling great people from seven different fields of human endeavour. It asks you to vote for your favourites, and ultimately decide who was the greatest person of the 20th century.

Icons: Activists is on BBC Two, Monday 21 June, @ 9pm. If you want to find out how to vote for Helen Keller or any of the other nominees featured in the series then go to www.bbc.co.uk/icons, where you can also find Terms and a Privacy Notice.

Extant theatre, a company of visually-impaired performers and directors, is about to start a new tour with ‘Flight Paths’ – the cast are Amelia Cavallo and Sarah Houbolt, actors and circus performers who perform part of the show on aerial silks. The show will be made accessible through creative audio description and new sound technology called spatialised tracking. The shows run from 5th Feb – 5th March.

Peter White talks to two of the performers.

Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Lee Kumutat

Photo description: Promotional photo for FLIGHT PATHS 2019 tour by Chris Andreou.

Will Deafblind activist Helen Keller be voted in as a 20th century icon?

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted

Navigating University20181204

Going to university presents special challenges if you are blind or visually impaired. It may be your first time away from home. You have to learn a whole new level of independence from finding your way around unfamiliar spaces, to decoding lectures and fitting in with your new friends. Peter White talks to three students about their experiences.

The special challenges facing visually impaired students at university.

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted

Should Fines Be Issued For Inaccessible Websites?20190108

In 2013, Norway's equivalent Equality and Human Rights Commission was given the authority to fine both public and private sector organisations if they didn't make their websites usable to a certain standard. There are suggestions from campaigners in the UK that the same approach should and could be adopted. Robin Christopherson from AbilityNet believes it is something that would work in the UK. Malin Rygg from Difi, the Norwegian organisation tasked with auditing websites, says they haven't fined any companies yet, but they have issued warnings. While Arnt Holte from the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted thinks while accessibility is slowly improving, he is concerned that new EU legislation only governing the accessibility of public sector websites, and soon to be law in Norway, will water down the powers of Difi and only see them being able to enforce accessibility on public sector websites.

The Netflix film, Bird Box, is its biggest hit to date, having been downloaded 45 million times since its release last December. It's a post-apocalyptic story where characters must wear blindfolds or they will contract a deadly disease. The film has spawned a social media craze called the Bird Box challenge where people are donning blindfolds and performing tasks and taking part in activities such as driving. Journalists Emma Tracey and Lucy Edwards discuss the film, and concerns raised by some blindness organisations, that the craze will have a negative impact on the public's perception of blindness.

Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Lee Kumutat

Should fines be issued for inaccessible websites? The Bird Box Challenge.

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted

The Newest Star Of Doctor Who20181127

The early symptoms of a rare form of Alzheimer's disease, known as Posterior Cortical Atrophy, presents problems for people in seeing and making sense of the world. The disease starts in the visual cortex at the back of the brain. Its impact is devastating and its progression is aggressive. Doug Banks, who is 58 and has PCA, likens it to looking through a shattered mirror. He talks to Peter White about the other ways it affects his life. Alzheimer's Research UK's chief medical officer David Reynolds tells us what's happening to Doug's brain.

College student and young actor Ellie Wallwork has had her big break. She is to play the lead guest role in Sunday's episode of Dr Who. She tells Peter White how she got the part and where acting fits into her future aspirations.

Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Lee Kumutat

Blind actor Ellie Wallwork stars in the upcoming episode of Doctor Who.

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted

Trial Of Driverless Vehicles20190319

Driverless vehicles are being tested at the moment but at the Blind Veterans UK Centre in Ovingdean, Brighton, a six month trial for the use of visually impaired people has just got underway. Reporter Lucy Edwards went to find out what some of the blind veterans think of them.

Roy Symons is turning 100 on Friday. His secret to a long life? Keep organised, keep your independence and have a tot of something strong each day. Peter White visits him in his home in Harrow to toast him on his birthday.

Presenter: Lee Kumutat
Reporter: Peter White
Reporter: Lucy Edwards

Charity Blind Veterans UK runs autonomous vehicle trials.

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted