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In Touch


News, views and information for people who are blind or visually impaired. Presented by Peter White every Tuesday evening from 20:40.

News, views and information for people who are blind or visually impaired. Presented by Peter White every Tuesday evening from 20:40.
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London, United Kingdom




News, views and information for people who are blind or visually impaired. Presented by Peter White every Tuesday evening from 20:40.




Talk and Support, David Katz

The RNIB says it could make up to 100 redundancies to ensure the help it offers blind people "efficient and sustainable". It reported a deficit of around £13m in the financial year before March 2017. We've heard about three of the early redundancies, and they will affect the Talk and Support service, which links up blind people on a conference call with a volunteer to offer advice and help. Diane Benjamin is one such volunteer, and she is concerned about the impact of the change. We also...


Disabled Student Allowance

We hear from a student who has had to appeal twice against his Disabled Student Allowance settlement from the Student Loans Company. The award is supposed to help students with a disability pay for human help and equipment, but Sam Hoskin says his experience has shown that unless they are prepared to argue with your award - blind students could be missing out. The system changed in 2014 to place more emphasis on what universities should be required to provide under equality legislation....


New Research into Echolocation

Peter White recalls being four years old when echolocation just... clicked. He was walking under a railway bridge and discovered that making a sound could give him an echo impression of the height of it. Videos and podcasts about the American exponent Daniel Kish have drawn a wide audience, and he's been involved in the formal teaching of the skill, despite many blind people feeling it is instinctive. In Touch has had first view of new Durham University research into the technique with Dr...


St Vincent's School in Liverpool

School has changed for blind children. Peter White recalls leaving education with a knowledge of history and physics - and an inability to iron a shirt or peel a potato. But at St Vincent's School in Liverpool the fundamentals of living, cookery, the ability to navigate and even ironing, sit alongside the national curriculum. We meet vice principal Angela Simpson, as she takes us through the corridors, and take a walk with Head Girl Marcia, for a lesson in visually impaired street skills....


A Factory in Russia

During the Cold War, Peter White heard a fascinating rumour from Russia - that there were factories which employed the visually impaired almost exclusively. But today, initiatives offering protected employment for blind people are viewed as suspect. Society has moved toward integration and segregating workers is seen as unfashionable. But in Russia, one of the electronics factories Peter heard about is still going strong, and Peter is about to go on a special visit... Presented by Peter...


Partially Sighted Society and Lighting

Tom Walker talks to visually-impaired attendees of the first conference of the Partially-Sighted Society. Anita Plant, CEO of the PSS talks to Peter White about the charity's relaunch. RNIB Optometrist Louise Gaw talks to Cheryl Gabriel about the way lighting can help someone with low vision, make the most of their residual sight. Louise stresses the importance of getting professional help from a rehab worker or local blind society, to advise on the best lighting options, depending on the...


Inaccessible white goods

News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted. Jackie Brown wants better access to domestic white goods, which don't require sighted help to set up. Robin Christopherson from AbilityNet, suggests smart options which use apps, speech and wifi to enable a blind person to take control of their domestic appliances. Jackie is concerned however, that not everyone is comfortable using smartphone technology and the demise of the button and tactile switches will leave...


Does it matter if your partner can see or not?

A question often-asked of blind and visually impaired people, by both sighted and other blind people, is "is your partner blind or sighted?" Peter White explores the reasons behind this question, and blind and visually impaired peoples' reaction to it. Guests: Amie Slavin, Jonathan Mosen and Rob Murthwaite. Presenter: Peter White Producer: Lee Kumutat.


Sudden sight loss

In August 2016 it became mandatory for health and social care providers to offer patients written information in whichever format they required - whether that be via text, email, braille, audio or large print. The implementation of what is called the Accessible Information Standard has recently been reviewed with mixed results. We put some listeners' experiences of getting required information in a required format from the NHS to Olivia Butterworth from NHS England. Peter White talks to...


Specialist travel and audio-described circus

What's the best approach when it comes to holidays for blind and partially sighted people? TravelEyes is a company which takes both blind and sighted people on holiday - the visually impaired traveller pays full price, and the fully-sighted person pays up to 50% of the full cost and agrees to guide and describe the attractions for the visually impaired travellers. But what if you have an additional need like a hearing impairment? The travel company says that in some cases, customers who...


Changing jobs, Washington State's blind governor

Cyrus Habib lost his sight when he was eight, and in January this year aged 35 took up an elected position as Lieutenant governor of Washington State in America. He talks to Peter White about walking the fine line between sympathy and empathy when campaigning, and how technology is helping him do his job. Listener Nick Adamson has been working for the same company in the same role for the last 12 years. He has no immediate plans to change jobs, but says contemplating a career move when...


Why Can't I Sleep?

Blind people with no light perception can suffer from a variety of sleep problems. Its now been proved that for the majority of blind people with no light perception, the lack of light makes it impossible for a gland situated in the brain to produce sufficient levels of a hormone called melatonin. This can lead to circadian sleep disorders which can occur when the body clock does not fall into a regular rhythm. Blind listeners tell In Touch about the impact poor sleep can have on their...


Retirement angst, Self-defence

Listener Mike Kelly lost his sight in his thirties, shortly after he'd finished his training as an architect. He underwent intensive rehabilitation and has had a successful full time career in the civil service. Now aged 65 Mike has chosen to retire. Mixed in with the excitement of starting a new chapter in his life, he has some fears and concerns as well. David Black who has Retinitis Pigmentosa was attacked three times. Despite having studied martial arts he felt unable to defend himself...


New partially sighted MP Marsha De Cordova

After a ten year career holding various roles in national blindness charities, in 2014 Marsha De Cordova entered the world of politics when she became a councillor in Lambeth, south-east London. Last Thursday evening, she unexpectedly won the seat of Battersea from the Conservative minister Jane Ellison with a 10% swing. Born with nystagmus, a condition which makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, she is planning to champion disability rights as she takes her seat in Parliament later...



Rachael Andrews wanted to vote in the general election held in 2015, but when she and her blind husband arrived at her polling station, the device that was supposed to be in place to help them vote secretly and independently couldn't be found. She launched a legal challenge against her local authority to try to change the situation. She tells us why and what the outcome was. Don't worry if you haven't waded through all seven political party manifestoes, BBC political correspondent Gary...


Lovers not Carers

Kirsten Hearn and Red Szell join Peter White to talk about their personal experiences of having their lovers mistaken for carers, when they are out together. The panel all offer advice on how to deal with awkward situations, including when a member of the public or shop assistant asks a 'does he take sugar?' type question. Presenter: Peter White Producer: Cheryl Gabriel.


The Braille Legacy Musical, International Blind Tennis

Peter White talks to the author of The Braille Legacy - a musical currently staged at The Charing Cross Theatre in London, which dramatises the life and achievements of Louis Braille, who invented the tactile writing system. Ellie Southwood who has been to see the show, gives a review from a blind person's perspective. Last week in Spain the first international blind tennis tournament was held with 12 countries competing for international rankings. Chris Baily came home with a trophy for...


Andrew Bastawrous, Bristol blind running club

Andrew Bastawrous CEO Peek, which is a social enterprise providing technology and support to healthcare providers, which will help them screen people for eye disease. He is currently doing this work in Africa as part of a campaign called Clearly, which aims to find global solutions to improve vision correction. Tom Walker reports from a running club in Bristol which encourages blind and visually-impaired people to run with a guide.


RNIB library services, Football commentary

Tracy Pearson, Leader of RNIB's Reader Services responds to listeners queries about talking books. Tracy tells Peter White that the service is in good shape and that where problems have been pointed out by customers, they have tried to take them on board and make appropriate improvements. Tom Walker meets visually impaired MKDons supporter Jeff Newell and they go to watch his team play Southend United at Southend's ground. Jeff has to use his monocular to watch the action as the ground...


Sitarist Baluji Shrivastav OBE and Corinna Bauer, Harvard research

Baluji Shrivastav is one of India's greatest sitar players and musicians. Now UK based, he has formed the Inner Vision Orchestra, comprised of blind and visually-impaired musicians from around the world. Baluji talks to Peter about his long held passion for music and in particular the sitar, for which he is probably best known. Corinna Bauer is one of the leading researchers at Harvard, who has found that there are anatomical and functional differences in the brains of early blind people,...