BBC newsreaders told to read out URLS, phone numbers for blind viewers
A seemingly routine internal email sent by Peter Horrocks, the head of the BBC newsroom, to TV news presenters ended up at the centre of a big news story yesterday.
The subject of the memo was the increasing number of web addresses, email addresses and phone numbers that are broadcast during programmes, which are used to direct viewers back to the BBC News website. In the message, Peter Horrocks asked that these details should now be read out in full, and that the phrase "as you can see on your screens" should be avoided. Why? Because this behaviour excludes blind and visually impaired people from receiving this information, and is discourteous.
In no time at all, the story had been picked up by newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph - BBC newsreaders told to read out phone numbers to avoid offending the blind - and The Guardian, as they reported that Horrocks had had to step in and defend the move after it was labelled in some quarters as an example of "political correctness gone mad".
On the BBC News Editors blog, you can read Peter Horrocks' post about this issue, in which he denies the accusation of political correctness, and points out that this change "is not about avoiding causing offence. It's about information and how to access it". He goes on to mention that audience figures for the BBC News at Six on BBC One show that 21% of viewers have a disability of some kind, and that the directive is part of the BBC's commitment to help disabled people use their services.
So what do you think? Do you welcome this move? Was the lack of email addresses, web addresses and phone numbers being read out something that concerned you? And what about the idea that referring to details being shown on the screen is discourteous? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.