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

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


London, United Kingdom




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




Assistive Technology For Pupils; Comedian Jamie MacDonald

Home learning can be difficult for blind and visually impaired children. But the charity Guide Dogs is aiming to change that with their new Tech for All scheme. Within the pilot of the scheme, Guide Dogs are aiming to provide free iPads to around 3,500 children to help them with their school work and overall independence. We talk to the charity's Director of Operations, Peter Osborne about the background to the scheme and we hear from a family who have benefitted. If you've not heard of him...


A Paralympics Special

There has been more than a year of uncertainty about whether the Olympic and Paralympic games will actually go ahead in Tokyo this year. The Olympics are already in full swing and the Paralympic games will start on the 24th of August. Ahead of the games, we hear from two visually impaired para athletes, Alison Peasgood of triathlon and Elliot Stewart of judo, about how the past year has been. We hear about their training and fitness levels and how they're feeling about heading to Tokyo to...


Photo ID At Polling Stations; Network Rail On Tactile Paving

Plans to require voters to show photo ID at polling stations were recently introduced in Parliament under the Elections Bill. But The RNIB are concerned that this will make the electoral process even less accessible for blind and partially sighted voters, who are seemingly disproportionately less likely to hold a passport or driving licence. We talk to the RNIB's Director of Development Keith Valentine about the charity's concerns surrounding this. And we get some answers from Network Rail's...


Tactile paving at train stations; Braille and assistive technology

There have been some promising signs emerging from Network Rail over the last 12 months around the installation of tactile paving on the edge of their train station platforms. But tonight, we're questioning whether action is being taken quickly enough to make train stations a safer place for blind and visually impaired rail users. Last year, a Freedom of Information report showed that 35% of the UK’s train platforms did not have tactile paving. But what is the situation a year on? We revisit...


Wheelie bins; Becoming a new parent

Fern Lulham sits in for Peter White. Wheelie bins pose yet another potential obstacle for blind and visually impaired people when navigating pavements. North West Leicester City Council will potentially be able to impose fines to people who leave their wheelie bin on the pavement after bin day. Residents could be liable if there is an accident due to the obstruction. They have recently launched a consultation exercise, that will ask local residents about their thoughts on how to pave their...


Further Education Support; Braille versus Assistive Technology

A longitudinal study by the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research at the University of Birmingham and the Thomas Pocklington Trust, identified key challenges experienced by blind and visually impaired people when they moved on to Further Education. It also found that many did not gain quality employment despite earning qualifications in line with the general population. And is assistive technology making the learning and usage of braille more scarce? We want to hear your views...


Isolation; Echolocation

The disability charity Sense are calling on the Government and local communities to prioritise disabled people as the country plans its way out of the Coronavirus restrictions. It's been laid out in their ‘Left out of Life’ report, which reveals the extent to which people feel worried about going out and anxious about measures like social distancing. We speak to the charity’s CEO, Richard Kramer. Echolocation has long been endorsed as a way of helping people who are blind or partially...


Accessible Covid Testing; Working from Home

Rapid lateral flow tests for Covid-19 were criticised earlier in the year for not being accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. The government promised to do better, but did it happen? Spectators are making a welcome return to some of the big sporting events of the summer, including Test matches and the European Football Championship, but they are only allowed into stadiums if they can show proof of a negative lateral flow test or double vaccination. Are you itching to get...


Lighting in the Home; E-scooters Pt 2

Getting the right lighting in the home can be life-changing for people who are blind or visually impaired. Tonight we get a preview of a new guide due to be published by the sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust which gives solutions to some common lighting problems. We invited one of our listeners, who emailed in about the subject, to put the questions to the author. And, after a big response from you on our item about e-scooters, we speak to one of the three operators of the trials...


A Genetics Special

In this special programme, we examine the role genetics plays in both the inheritance of sight loss and its future treatment. We hear about the latest breakthrough reported in the journal 'Nature Medicine' in which the vision of a completely blind man was partially restored using light-sensing proteins first found in algae. He was treated with a type of therapy called optogenetics, which uses the proteins to control cells at the back of his eye. And we discuss the merits of gene testing with...


Electric Scooters; Fans Return to Stadia

New figures show there have been over 200 injuries and 1,100 complaints to local authorities since the trial of electric scooters began in 50 towns and cities across the UK. Sight loss charities are calling for stricter enforcement of existing regulations to keep people who are blind or visually impaired safe. And we speak to blind or visually impaired football fans as they make a welcome return to stadia.


A Technology Special

The pandemic has accelerated our use of the digital world, meaning accessible websites and apps have never been more important. So who's doing it well and who could do better? We've been collating your examples of website accessibility and put them to Robin Christopherson from AbilityNet, who offer advice for companies and public bodies on making their online platforms suitable for people who are blind or visually impaired. Also - we review the latest software to be included on the Amazon...


Voting; Extreme Sports

Up until now it's been virtually impossible for people who are blind or visually impaired to cast their vote completely privately. But new technology trialled at polling booths in Norfolk last week could change all that. We hear from someone who took part. And after recovering from meningitis, a double lung transplant and seven cornea operations, Sam Roberts talks to Peter White about his newfound love of extreme sports.


The Language of Disability

How does language affect how we view disability; and who gets to decide what words we should use? Peter White discusses the changing terminology around visual impairment following a report by the charity Leonard Cheshire showing that nearly three quarters of disabled people feel more needs to be done for non-disabled people to understand that their words can offend. Presenter: Peter White Producer: Simon Hoban


Applying for Jobs; Going out after Lockdown

Only one in four registered blind and partially sighted people of working age are in employment and on tonight's programme we hear one woman's struggle to get a job. Angharad Paget Jones applied for 2,000 jobs and had 200 interviews before she was offered a position - and she believes discrimination was sometimes to blame. And now that restrictions are easing, how are you feeling about going out and about again? Lots of us have lost a bit of confidence in the pandemic - we hear from two...


Missed Appointments; Moving House

We speak to the woman whose sight deteriorated in the pandemic because her appointment was cancelled. And what are the very specific challenges for blind and visually impaired people when it comes to moving house? From labelling boxes to scoping out the new area, we hear from three listeners who've done it - and have some tips on how to make sure it goes smoothly.


Habilitation Report; Blind Footballer

Habilitation gives young people who are visually impaired crucial life skills, such as mobility and auditory training, to help them develop confidence and live their lives. But a new report has laid bare the chronic shortage of habilitation officers and revealed a patchwork of services provided by local authorities in England. One local council provided habilitation support to just 3% of the children and young people with vision impairment in their area, and another provided this service to...


Guide Dog DNA; Blind Mountain Biker

3,000 puppies are to have their DNA sequenced via sailva swabs in order to build a database that will help improve the success rate of fully established working guide dogs. The 'Born to Guide' project is being led by Dr Tom Lewis, who told us how the database will establish links between dog genetics, health and behaviour. And we meet Xavier Hopkins - the visually impaired mountain biker who makes a mental map of the courses he rides, before hurtling down them at very high speeds.


A Transport Special - Buses and Trains; Audio Cookbooks

The Government's promised £3 billion pounds to transform bus services in England as part of its 'Bus Back Better' plan. But how much of the money is dedicated to improving accessibility? Our reporter Fern Lulham has been finding out whether services like talking buses are soon to become commonplace across the country. Meanwhile thousands of rail staff have been undergoing training to help them understand the appropriate help to offer people who are disabled. And find out what happens when...


Accessible Covid Information; Amazon Fresh; Telephone Betting

Sarah Leadbetter, from Narborough in Leicestershire, is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable. However government correspondence advising her to shield was not sent in a format she could access - which she argued was discrimination. After her legal challenge, the government has agreed to review its communication with disabled people. While shops on the High Street are closing, Amazon has opened a new one - with a difference. Billed as 'contactless' and utilising the firm's app, shoppers...