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BBC Radio 4 In Touch
8 January 2008

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Factsheet

IAN MACRAE
Ian first contributed to the programme back in the early 80s but today he is back to tell us about his new role as the first disabled editor of Disability Now.

CONTACT

DISABILITY NOW
www.disabilitynow.org.uk
A print publication for anyone with an interest in disability.


CREDIT CARD TROUBLE
Adrian and Linda Rowe fly regularly to and from the States, Linda originally comes from the USA, but for the past two summers their attempts to book flights by phone have been dogged with problems.

CONTACTS

EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION DISABILITY HELPLINE (England)
FREEPOST MID02164
Stratford upon Avon
CV37 9BR
Tel: 08457 622 633
Textphone: 08457 622 644
Fax: 08457 778 878
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Wed 8:00 am-8:00 pm.
Enquiry: englandhelpline2@equalityhumanrights.com
www.equalityhumanrights.com

Equality and Human Rights Commission Helpline Wales
Freepost RRLR-UEYB-UYZL
1st Floor
3 Callaghan Square
Cardiff
CF10 5BT
0845 604 8810 - Wales main number
0845 604 8820 - Wales textphone
0845 604 8830 - Wales fax
9:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday to Friday (an out-of-hours service will start running soon)
Enquiry: waleshelpline@equalityhumanrights.com
www.equalityhumanrights.com


Equality and Human Rights Commission Helpline Scotland
Freepost RRLL-GYLB-UJTA
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
Glasgow
G2 8DU
0845 604 5510 - Scotland Main
0845 604 5520 - Scotland Textphone
0845 604 5530 - Scotland – Fax
9:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday to Friday (an out-of-hours service will start running soon)
Enquiry: scotlandhelpline@equalityhumanrights.com
www.equalityhumanrights.com


ASSOCIATION OF PAYMENT CLEARING SYSTEMS (APACS)
Mercury House
Triton Court
14 Finsbury Square
London
EC2A 1LQ
http://www.apacs.org.uk/
APACS was set up in 1985 as a non-statutory Association of institutions delivering payment services. APACS provides a forum for institutions to discuss and decide non-competitive issues relating to the payments industry.


CRAIG LUNBERG
The programme talk to Craig Lundberg. This time last year Craig was a young soldier with a promising career in the army but in March he was blinded during a fire fight on Iraqi rooftop. He featured in a special edition of In Touch on Christmas Day and tonight he talks about his experience of St Dunstan’s, the charity for blind ex-Service men and women.

CONTACT

ST DUNSTAN’S
Greenways
Ovingdean
Brighton
East Sussex BN2 7BS
Tel: 01273 307811
Fax: 01273 302704
Email: enquiries@st-dunstans.org.uk
www.st-dunstans.org.uk
St Dunstan’s is a national UK charity established in 1915 by Sir Arthur Pearson to provide an independent future for blind ex-Service men and women.


CONTACTS – GENERAL

RNIB
105 Judd Street
London
WC1H 9NE
Helpline: 0845 766 9999
Tel: 0207 388 1266 (switchboard/overseas callers)
Web: www.rnib.org.uk
The RNIB provides information, support and advice for anyone with a serious sight problem. They not only provide Braille, Talking Books and computer training, but imaginative and practical solutions to everyday challenges. The RNIB campaigns to change society's attitudes, actions and assumptions, so that people with sight problems can enjoy the same rights, freedoms and responsibilities as fully sighted people. They also fund pioneering research into preventing and treating eye disease and promote eye health by running public health awareness campaigns.


HENSHAWS SOCIETY FOR BLIND PEOPLE (HSBP)
John Derby House
88-92 Talbot Road
Old Trafford
Manchester
M16 0GS
Tel: 0161 872 1234
Email: info@hsbp.co.uk
Web: www.henshaws.org.uk
Henshaws provides a wide range of services for people who have sight difficulties. They aim to enable visually impaired people of all ages to maximise their independence and enjoy a high quality of life. They have centres in: Harrogate, Knaresborough, Liverpool, Llandudno, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Salford, Southport and Trafford.


THE GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND ASSOCIATION (GDBA)
Burghfield Common
Reading
RG7 3YG
Tel: 0118 983 5555
Email: guidedogs@guidedogs.org.uk
Web: www.guidedogs.org.uk
The GDBA’s mission is to provide guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services that meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people.


ACTION FOR BLIND PEOPLE
14-16 Verney Road
London
SE16 3DZ
Tel: 0800 915 4666 (info & advice)
Web: www.afbp.org
Registered charity with national cover that provides practical support in the areas of housing, holidays, information, employment and training, cash grants and welfare rights for blind and partially-sighted people. Leaflets and booklets are available.


NATIONAL LEAGUE OF THE BLIND AND DISABLED
Central Office
Swinton House
324 Grays Inn Road
London
WC1X 8DD
Tel: 020 7837 6103
Textphone: 020 7837 6103
National League of the Blind and Disabled is a registered trade union and is involved in all issues regarding the employment of blind and disabled people in the UK.


NATIONAL LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND (NLB)
Far Cromwell Road
Bredbury
Stockport
SK6 2SG
RNIB Customer Services on 0845 762 6843
Email: cservices@rnib.org.uk
Web: www.nlb-online.org
The NLB is a registered charity which helps visually impaired people throughout the country continue to enjoy the same access to the world of reading as people who are fully sighted.

Trustees from the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) and the National Library for the Blind (NLB) have agreed to merge the library services of both charities as of 1 January 2007, creating the new RNIB National Library Service.


EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION DISABILITY HELPLINE (England)
FREEPOST MID02164
Stratford upon Avon
CV37 9BR
Tel: 08457 622 633
Textphone: 08457 622 644
Fax: 08457 778 878
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Wed 8:00 am-8:00 pm.
Enquiry: englandhelpline2@equalityhumanrights.com
www.equalityhumanrights.com

Equality and Human Rights Commission Helpline Wales
Freepost RRLR-UEYB-UYZL
1st Floor
3 Callaghan Square
Cardiff
CF10 5BT
0845 604 8810 - Wales main number
0845 604 8820 - Wales textphone
0845 604 8830 - Wales fax

9:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday to Friday (an out-of-hours service will start running soon)

Enquiry: waleshelpline@equalityhumanrights.com
www.equalityhumanrights.com


Equality and Human Rights Commission Helpline Scotland
Freepost RRLL-GYLB-UJTA
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
Glasgow
G2 8DU
0845 604 5510 - Scotland Main
0845 604 5520 - Scotland Textphone
0845 604 5530 - Scotland – Fax

9:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday to Friday (an out-of-hours service will start running soon)

Enquiry: scotlandhelpline@equalityhumanrights.com
www.equalityhumanrights.com


DISABLED LIVING FOUNDATION
380-384 Harrow Road
London
W9 2HU
Tel: 0845 130 9177
Web: www.dlf.org.uk
The Disabled Living Foundation provide information and advice on disability equipment.



The BBC is not responsible for external websites 

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Transcript

IN TOUCH

TX: 08.01.08 2040-2100


PRESENTER: PETER WHITE

PRODUCER: CHERYL GABRIEL



White
Good Evening. Tonight: we find an old friend, in a new job; and a new friend, back by popular demand. And then there's the strange case of the frequent flyer, who appears to have to make a trip to the airport, every time he wants to book with his favourite airline.

But first that old friend, well almost part of the furniture really - Ian Macrae, sometime producer, sometime presenter and often contributor to this programme right back to the early '80s but now starting a new job, taken up just before Christmas. A challenging move for a visually impaired journalist from radio to the written media as the first disabled editor of Disability Now. Now making it in radio is one thing but editing a print magazine sounds like a very visual operation indeed. Ian, welcome back to the studio. Did you have any hesitation in taking the job on?

Macrae
I didn't, I think that's partly because I wasn't all that aware of precisely the nature of the journey that I would have to make. I have worked in the visual media before. Back in the mid-'80s I was the film critic for the local radio station of which I worked and I also spent nine years or so working in television down here, some of that time I was a producer out directing camera crews and so forth. But actually just dealing with large amounts of text is a pretty challenging - because you know you have to be very conscious of accuracy, not just in terms of what the text actually says in terms of its content but in terms of the accuracy of how it's presented, so you have to be avoiding typing errors, typographical errors, literal errors - that kind of thing. And that is quite challenging. Also just the way in which the process of kind of manipulating text works in a published magazine. I didn't realise that - in radio quite often someone would say to me - how long would you like me to give you and I would say give me what you think it's worth and then if necessary I'll cut it down, you have to be much more prescriptive in print journalism and actually say to people actually we haven't got room for anymore than 450 words here and that was a big kind of - that was a big learn for me.

White
I guess this is one of those instances where it really is relevant to say how much can you actually see, I mean how much help do you need in interpreting this kind of material?

Macrae
Okay, I can see well enough to look at a page and make a visual judgement on whether I think the page, as an overall image, in terms of where pictures are on it and how they relate to the words, and thankfully I work with people who have realised that I make quite sound calls when it comes to deciding whether the layout on a particular page is right. So I can see that. I can't see well enough to read print without the aid of a very high powered magnifying aid and that obviously makes things very slow. So what I've now developed is a system whereby the page gets made by the guy with whom I work, who does all the production side and layout and he then has to extract the text from the pdf file, as it's called, and send it to me in an e-mail, which means I can then read it using my screen reader. So it's quite complicated.

White
Yeah, but if it's an artistic call, you know if it's a matter of does this actually look right are you saying that degree of sight is not necessarily a bar to making an artistic judgement?

Macrae
I would say that I'm as capable as - usually as capable as not of making that kind of call though I do have - obviously I work with sighted colleagues and if I - there was a headline recently, for example, which I didn't like and it said something like "Kirklees points the way on hate crime" and I didn't particularly like that, so I rewrote it and said leads the way or something and somebody had to point out to me that the headline was underneath a picture which had people pointing at each other right. So I take advice and I don't stand on my dignity too much, I think that's the pragmatic approach to it.

White
There's another interesting point I think on the communication front that I think the man who's actually in charge of the layouts - specifically the layout - is profoundly deaf.

Macrae
Indeed British Sign Language user, of which I'm not, also I am told that I'm not very easy to lip read. So we spend a lot of time e-mailing each other and yet again, back to one of my favourite subjects - the mobile phone - equipped, as it now is, with synthetic speech that makes it talk means that we can text each other or we can indeed just open up blank text messages and I can communicate with him that way but we do use e-mail a lot, even though - so we sit literally next - as far as I am from you now Peter and e-mail each other probably about, I don't know, 20, 30 times a day.

White
But it is true, isn't it, disability solidarity notwithstanding, that possibly the most difficult relationship you can have is a blind man and a profoundly deaf man.

Macrae
I worked very closely for some time with the guys at SeeHear, the BBC 1 programme for deaf viewers and actually I'm convinced that Clive Mason, one of the main presenters then, and I would have been really good mates but we just couldn't talk to each other.

White
To the magazine itself, I mean that's the layout but what do you want to do with the magazine, what's your vision for it - and I use the word unapologetically?

Macrae
No quite. I want it to be the direct voice of and for disabled people in the country. Up until quite recently Disability Now was a magazine which was of interest to the social care professionals, so some of my friends - best friends - believe it or not were occupational therapists and they loved it, social workers would read it, people in the medical professions maybe would read it in order, in some way, to become more informed about disability. I want it now to be - and indeed it is becoming - much more rooted in the direct lives and experiences of disabled people. And so, for example, we - two examples really - one was we recently did an interview with David Blunkett in which I was able, because we had the shared experience of having attended boarding school as it happens together, to reflect on the incidents which overtook his private life a couple of years ago and the extent to which boarding school, blind school, had prepared him for that experience as well as for the wider experience of politics. And we talked very directly about that, I would say as directly as anyone has spoken to him about it. Following on from that I recently did an interview with the comedienne Francesca Martinez and again talked about how her - what she is absolutely shapes her as a performer. So her timing doesn't depend on anything so much as the patterns of her speech and the patterns of her speech are determined by what she is as a disabled person. So ...

White
Because Francesca has patterns of speech which are typical cerebral palsy.

Macrae
Exactly correct. So if we're talking - we don't just assert that disabled people are discriminated against, though it is perfectly possible to do that, we don't just assert that it's very difficult for many disabled people to have independent lives, live independently, we prove that that is the case by going to disabled people and saying tell us your experiences.

White
And I believe one of the things that you do want to look at is this - the whole quite difficult area of hate crime against disabled people.

Macrae
We've started a campaign in the last issue which was basically aimed at highlighting the difficulties relating to hate crime. The two things that are certain about it are that disability hate crime does exist, people get tipped out of their wheelchairs and beaten up for no other reason than that they are disabled. They get imprisoned in their own home and robbed of their benefits and stuff for no other reason than that they are disabled. And people don't like them because of that. That's one thing that's certain. The other thing that's certain is that the provisions already exist to sentence people for crimes against disabled people if that aggravating provision - as it's called - is there, if it can be shown that the crime happened because the person was disabled then in the same way as if it can be shown that the crime was based on homophobia or race hatred there is what's called an aggravating provision which means people should be banged up for longer for those crimes. And that's not happening. And so the two aims of our campaign are to show that hate crime exists - and we've produced a massive dossier of hate crimes against disabled people - and also to show that those aggravating provisions aren't invoked.

White
Just one final question: Are you surprised that you're - as surprised as I am - that you're the first disabled editor of Disability Now?

Macrae
Pete, I've been around the area of disability broadcasting, as you say, since 1981 and nothing surprises me about anything to do with disability and journalism.

White
No indeed. Ian Macrae, thank you very much.

This might surprise you, what do you make of this? Adrian and Linda Rowe fly regularly to and from the States - Linda originally comes from the USA - but for the past two summers their attempts to book flights by phone have been dogged with problems. Unwilling to let it happen yet again, Adrian has contacted us, and he joins me in the studio. So, first of all Adrian, tell us the story.

Rowe
Whenever I've booked the airlines direct on their customer services they've looked up the flight details for me and then when it comes to paying with my credit card it seems that when they do their security checks, when they ask for the postal code, they say it's not the postal code on their computer system and that's not where I live.

White
So I mean is this a problem that you've had with your credit card with any other transactions that you've tried to make?

Rowe
No I haven't.

White
Okay, so have you actually talked to your credit card company about this because your card is with Abbey isn't it?

Rowe
That's right, yeah, well they actually have said that the information that they have on their system is what should be on their system. So why there's a problem I just haven't got a clue.

White
So what did you have to do in order to get your flight?

Rowe
Well when you book a flight with British Airways, or any airline, if the information doesn't come up on the third time then there's a problem that they have to wait till the following day because of the security checks third time crashes down. So I had to actually physically go to Gatwick Airport - it's about an hour and a quarter's journey from where I live in Bexley Heath - and what amazed me was that when I got to the airport the customer service agent that I saw there made a phone call to the central Visa, where they do all their checks. I was able talk to the agent at the Visa and answer all the security questions that they needed and then they physically were able to issue me with the tickets for Linda and I.

White
So every time you want to fly with your airline of choice it appears that you have to make a round trip to the airport and back in order to do it?

Rowe
As it stands at the moment. What annoys me more Peter is the fact that both Linda and I are executive club members of British Airways.

White
So goodness knows what would happen if you didn't have this exulted position. We've contacted both British Airways and Abbey, they both say that they've been looking into this matter for some considerable time now, neither can identify the problem in their systems because clearly there's a mismatch here, they both say - that is Abbey and British Airways - they both say they're very keen to find a solution and when they have they'll tell you hopefully and we'll tell our listeners. Adrian Rowe, thanks very much indeed.

Ian Macrae is still with us. You often reported on technical matters, have you ever had this kind of problem with credit cards?

Macrae
I've come across similar problems, though not directly related to Adrian's experience, I had difficulties where someone has been reading me the 16 digit number on the credit card so that I can relay that information to somebody else over the phone and I've had the person on the other end of the phone saying sorry we can't accept that, you're not reading it yourself and I go no that's because I can't.

White
Ian Macrae, thank you very much indeed.

And finally, and back by popular demand, the guest who made quite a hit on our Christmas Day edition of In Touch. If you missed it, you need to know that while this time last year Craig Lundberg was a high-flying young soldier bound for a successful army career, a fire-fight on an Iraqi rooftop last March led to a complete change of course, after Craig lost his sight. This was no depressing tale though. Craig's positive attitude, and determination to making the most of what he had provided a fascinating interview, which many of you clearly enjoyed.

Clips of responses
Time stood still while your programme aired about Craig, including the delightful section where his gran accidentally intervened, it was an inspired decision to keep the tape running. I take my hat off to you both and hope the impact of this programme will have not just a humbling effect on everyone who heard it but a lasting impact through funding to look after anyone in a similar situation.

Just to let you know that the Christmas Day edition of In Touch, the young man blinded as a soldier in Iraq, what an amazing person he is. I realise it's not possible for everyone to be like this and it's his natural way of handling things but it's still inspirational to listen to and will continue to follow future programmes on this lad. Of course Peter was as good as ever. I'm a sighted person but as you know we still listen.

I was washing up after a family Christmas meal whilst listening to this on the radio. It made me openly cry - I'm a man of 48 - to hear Craig's humility and story and his wishes for the future. What a fantastic man he is as are all of our troops who take the risks that he did. I wish him the very best of luck and I'm sure he will make a success of his life and teach us all who take so much for granted a great deal.

White
Thanks for all those comments from Alan Murray, from Maureen Gaffer and Chris Walker. So for all those who enjoyed it and for all those who missed it here's another chance to meet Craig. While with him - this wasn't broadcast on Christmas Day - we visited his local pub with a few friends and he began to muse on his reactions when he first went for rehabilitation to St Dunstan's - that's the blind ex-serviceman's association.

Lundberg
[Indistinct words] there, it's like the Stone Age, compared to me. No, I had a young person's view when I went there, they're all veterans, the oldest person in Britain lives there - Henry Allingham - who was in World War I and who's lived in three centuries, he was born in 1896, he's 111. There's people who served in the Second World War - the majority of them - who were war blinded or have gone blind through old age. And yet the average age is probably 70 - 60 is probably the youngest - so I'm the youngest St Dunstan now, who's been war injured, I'm the youngest by about 40, 50 years.

White
So presumably initially you thought I don't really want to be here didn't you?

Lundberg
Yeah, oh I didn't, I was like don't leave me in this old people's home. Like I said this is just a young person's view of older people but then when I got there and I got to mix with them they're just so interesting and they had [indistinct word] stories to tell me and life experiences, just not as blind, just general life and things that they had done. Which I found amazing, I could sit there and talk to them for hours. And they were interested in me because they were like what's Iraq like, what's the new war like, what's the new army like. And they were more interested in me than I was to say to talk to a Spitfire pilot, this guy's been doing like dog fights over Germany and everything and here he was wanting to talk to me. I'm like well hold on, I want to talk to you. And he was like don't worry about me, what about you, that's a shame, if I had that Tony Blair I'd strangle him and all like that. And I'm like - it was just amazing just to see people again, this comes down to positive attitude.

I talked to an 82 year old and she was there to learn how to send e-mails, to touch type, I was like what do you want to do that for, said you're 80 odd, have a cup of tea and sit in the garden. And she's like well all my family have emigrated so I want to learn how to send them e-mails so we can write letters and that to each other. And I was just going do you know what here's me saying that you're 80, you're past it, but here's you turning round and saying to me well no I'm not, just because you say I'm past it well I'm not because I'm going to go and do it. And that's where I got a lot of me attitude from as well, looking at these older people who really in the society today are categorised as past it and here they are learning how to send e-mails.

I had a 94-year-old, Dot, and we were doing Q stick rifle shooting and she got 48 and then she had another go and she weren't getting as good a score so she went I don't want to do it no more. So she comes away and she comes up to me and she goes oh yeah, I've seen you, I've spoke to you, she's totally blind as well, I spoke to you and she gives me a kiss and she's goes you're lovely and all like that and then she goes you go and have a go now. And I went, yeah I'm going to have a go. And as she walked away she goes don't forget 48 to beat. Just walking down the road and I had this picture of this little woman putting her hand up in the air, walking away going 48 to beat, like getting off down the corridor. And I just thought how amazing's that - 94 and there is she is talking to a 22 year old going well you've got 48 to beat so get on with it, do you know what I mean.

Friend
Did you beat it?

Lundberg
No. [Laughter] I got like 42. I was just amazed, I was just like wow what an attitude to have, 94.

White
Craig Lundberg and I reckon that that might not be the last we hear from Craig as the year progresses.

That's it for today. If you'd like to comment on anything you've heard or seek more information you can call on action line on 0800 044 044 or e-mail us here at In Touch or download a podcast of the programme from tomorrow. From me Peter White, my producer Cheryl Gabriel and the rest of the team goodbye.


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