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BBC Radio 4 In Touch
25 November 2008

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Factsheet

PROGRAMME ADDRESS

IN TOUCH
BBC Radio 4
Room 6084
Broadcasting House
London
W1A 1AA
Email: intouch@bbc.co.uk
Web:
www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/intouch.shtml

GUIDE DOGS ON PLANES
Guests: Clive Wood, Transport Policy Officer for Guide Dogs for The Blind

The programme discusses which airlines, and on which routes, you can travel with a guide dog.

CONTACTS

DEFRA (DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS)
PETS Helpline: 0870 241 1710
Minicom/textphone: 0845 300 1998
www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/pets/procedures/support-info/assistance.htm
For information on all guidelines governing travelling with pets and Guide Dogs, including details of routes and carriers.


THE GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND ASSOCIATION (GDBA)
Burghfield Common
Reading
RG7 3YG
Tel: 0118 983 5555
Access Info Line: 0845 241 2178
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.


RNIB
105 Judd Street
London
WC1H 9NE
Helpline: 0845 766 9999 (UK callers only - Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
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.


AIRSPACE EXHIBITION

The Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire has recently added an audio guide to its already largely tactile exhibition called Airspace. The exhibition tells the history of British and Commonwealth aviation.

Mani Djazmi and aircraft enthusiast, Billy Baxter, went for a tour of the exhibition.

Billy lost his sight while serving in the army in Bosnia 11 years ago and now works for the charity Saint Dunstans, which aims to provide an independent future for visually impaired ex-service men and women.

CONTACTS

ST. DUNSTAN’S
Tel: 0800 389 7979
Email: admissions@st-dunstans.org.uk
http://www.st-dunstans.org.uk/
Saint Dunstans is a charity providing welfare support, rehabilitation, training, respite and nursing care for blind and seriously visually impaired ex-Service men and women. It offers lifelong support, enabling 'St Dunstaners' to regain their independence, meet new challenges and achieve a better quality of life.  St Dunstan’s currently has centres in Ovingdean near Brighton and in Sheffield
IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM DUXFORD
Cambridgeshire
CB22 4QR
Tel: 01223 835 000
Fax: 01223 837 267
http://duxford.iwm.org.uk/
For information on the Airspace Exhibition and The Imperial War Museum Duxford.


SOUTH KOREA
Guest: Philippa Simkiss, Head of Employment and Life Long Learning at the RNIB.

A traditional way of tackling low employment amongst visually impaired people in South Korea has been to ring-fence the profession of masseur in favour of blind and partially sighted people.

This however has caused the country’s sighted massage therapists, who operate illegally and risk a fine or even jail if caught, to accuse the authorities of discrimination.

A fortnight ago, a group of them appealed to the country's Constitutional Court, arguing that it violates their vocational freedom.

John Sudworth, BBC Correspondent in South Korea, reported to In Touch on the outcome of the appeal.

The Constitutional Court said it is necessary to give preferential treatment to blind masseurs to maintain some sort of employment equality.


GENERAL CONTACTS

RNIB
105 Judd Street
London
WC1H 9NE
Helpline: 0845 766 9999 (UK callers only - Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
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)
Tel: 020 7635 4800 (central office)
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
Tel: 0161 406 2525
Textphone: 0161 355 2043
Email: enquiries@nlbuk.org
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.


DISABILITY RIGHTS COMMISSION (DRC)
Freepost MID 02164
Stratford-upon-Avon
CV37 9BR
Tel: 08457 622 633
Textphone: 08457 622 644
Web: www.drc-gb.org
The DRC aims to act as a central source of advice on the rights of disabled people, while helping disabled people secure their rights and eliminate discrimination. It can advise on the operation of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).


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.


THRIVE
The Geoffrey Udall Centre
Beech Hill
Reading RG7 2AT
Tel: 0118 9885688
Email: info@thrive.org.uk
www.thrive.org.uk
http://www.thrive.org.uk/gardening-for-partially-sighted-people.asp
www.carryongardening.org.uk
Thrive is a national charity, founded in 1978, whose aim is to research, educate and promote the use and advantages of gardening for those with a disability. Thrive’s vision is that the benefits of gardening are known to, and can be accessed by, anyone with a disability.

Thrive has been supporting blind gardeners for over 30 years, and established the Blind Gardeners’ Club with RNIB in 2006 to help gardeners share information and techniques. Membership of the club costs £9 a year and includes:



The BBC is not responsible for external websites 

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Transcript

IN TOUCH

TX: 25.11.08 2040-2100


PRESENTER: MANI DJAZMI

Djazmi
Good evening. Aeroplanes past and present play a big part in this week's programme, in the form of an accessible airspace exhibition, and not so accessible air travel on certain airlines for guide dog owners flying into the UK.

And we visit South Korea to hear about an employment law which has divided the country's sighted and blind masseurs with its favouritism, leading to these discordant protests…

Protest Clip

Djazmi
First Barry Burgess recently returned home to New Zeland from a trip to Zurich, Switzerland, via Heathrow Airport. Barry's a guide dog owner and was dismayed to learn on arriving in London from Auckland for a transit stop that on the way back, his dog Bob would be quarantined for the duration of his transit and he would be fined £300 - the reason being that his return flight to London was with an airline which isn't approved to carry dogs in the cabin by Defra, the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs. More on this policy in a few moments, but first, here's Barry's Story:

Burgess
I was absolutely horrified because, as you can imagine, just being left at the gate with no sighted guide and it was four hours before I was allowed to have Bob back before I could fly back to Los Angeles and back to Auckland, New Zealand.

Djazmi
So you were told when you arrived in London from New Zealand that this would be the case and yet you stuck with your originally planned route home from Switzerland?

Burgess
I did, mainly because I had no option - I couldn't change my ticket - but I wanted to try and prove a point. I did suggest that if I entered in a wheelchair would you take my wheelchair away from me or if I was deaf would you take my hearing aid away from me and basically I was told not to be silly - a dog is a security risk and that's why they're doing it. I can't work out, myself, what difference it makes - what airline you actually fly into the UK on.

Djazmi
Barry Burgess.

In partnership with Defra The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, has produced a set of guidelines. Its transport policy officer Clive Wood has been listening Barry's story. Why does this policy exist?

Wood
Well basically it's part of the quarantine requirements under the UK laws in terms of rabies. The requirements are to prevent any disease through animals getting into the UK.

Djazmi
Why can some airlines carry dogs in the cabin with their owners and others are only allowed to convey them as cargo?

Wood
Well the regulations set by Defra basically say that if an airline wishes to carry a recognised assistance dog - which includes guide dogs - as part of the pet travel scheme, they need to apply to Defra to be able to do this.

Djazmi
And this applies to transit stops as well as incoming flights?

Wood
Yes because you're coming into the UK, you're on UK land.

Djazmi
Why do you think they haven't done that, because if it's so straightforward it seems like an obvious step?

Wood
I do think that there is an onus of responsibility on the various government departments, including Defra, the Department for Transport, to make that information available so that airlines are aware of what their responsibilities are. And with the introduction of the recent EU regulation on air travel, which is giving more rights to disabled passengers, that regulation says that airlines are required to carry recognised assistance dogs in the cabin of the aircraft, more airlines should be applying to Defra now to carry recognised assistance dogs in the cabin of aircraft into the UK on international flights. And I'm very disappointed, to be quite honest, that more airlines haven't done that and I do urge airlines to make sure that they're compliant with the regulation, as they should do because until they do that we can have an EU regulation in place that's supposed to be helping disabled people to travel by air but unless that regulation is being put fully in place it's not doing as it's supposed to do.

Djazmi
Clive Wood thanks very much indeed. And you'll be able to find details of these guidelines from our action line, number to come later.

Now, as we hear regularly on In Touch, audio description is a thriving phenomenon, making cinemas, the arts and museums more accessible and enjoyable for blind and partially sighted people. The Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, for instance, has recently added an audio guide to its already largely tactile exhibition called Airspace, which tells the history of British and Commonwealth aviation. I took aircraft enthusiast Billy Baxter for a tour of the exhibition. Billy lost his sight while serving in the army in Bosnia 11 years ago and now works for the charity Saint Dunstans, which aims to provide an independent future for blind ex-service men and women.

Billy and I began our tour at a wind tunnel, where we donned gloves of different shapes and thrust them into the teeth of the wind, to demonstrate the science of lift. Billy's glove was in the shape of an aeroplane's wing.

Baxter
You can feel the wind hitting the leading edge and just by rotating your wrist you can really feel the force of the wind changing the direction of the glove.

Djazmi
Well my glove is cylindrical, so I have to put this into the wind tunnel - if you wouldn't mind pressing the button Billy ...

Baxter
Certainly.

Djazmi
The movement of the glove and my wrist by the wind is far less pronounced with this cylinder. It's still being tossed around by the wind but not as much as the classical wing shaped glove. And to be honest I don't really know what that significance is in science but it's quite interesting and it's quite fun isn't it.

Warner
My name's Carl Warner, I'm the research and information manager at Duxford and I was part of the creative team that put the audio guide for blind and partially sighted visitors together for Airspace. We opened this last year. We wanted to make sure that we designed it to be as fully accessible as possible. We'd included plenty of tactility, we'd included plenty of oral history clips but we felt that the best way to direct blind and partially sighted visitors to the bits that were really accessible and make up for the bits that we simply weren't able to make as accessible as we would have liked to have done was to develop an audio guide.

Audio Guide
This is the start of the Sky Bridge walkway, 10 feet wide, running at 90 degrees to the exhibition along the far end of the building. Just up ahead here is the tail of a silver aeroplane. It's painted brightly because it was used as a target tug for gunners and didn't want to be mistaken for the target. It's over 40 feet long but looks small compared to the brutal looking aircraft on the ground just below and ahead. It's a Lancaster bomber, the great workhorse of the RAF's night bombing campaign during the Second World War.

Baxter
When the audio describer says the Lancaster I immediately put a picture in my mind of a Lancaster bomber and I saw the camouflaged wings on the top, the snub nose [indistinct word] and the black body. So all of it - all the images come into your mind, it's amazing, it really is.

Djazmi
All you need now is a bit of a race track and you've got just a bigger version of the ideal boy's bedroom.

Baxter
Exactly that Mani, it feels as if you're a mouse inside a little boy's bedroom because above us I've got images of little model aeroplanes being suspended but they're the real things. This hangar is absolutely enormous. Three of these aircraft in themselves are giants but they're dwarfed - they're dwarfed into insignificance by the size of the hangar.

Audio Guide
Concorde was the first and only truly successful supersonic passenger aircraft. Mind your head as you duck into the aeroplane. If this was a passenger Concorde it would have been through this door that the lucky passengers would have been welcomed in the [indistinct word] years. There's a greasy, almost medicinal smell, the space is cramped and there's a bewildering array of weird machinery, since this was a pre-production test aircraft.

Djazmi
I don't know about you but I find that when I go round places with an audio description tape I'm quite excluded from the rest of the immediate environment so if I'm with someone it's harder to talk to them as we walk because I'm listening to the audio description while I'm listening to them at the same time.

Baxter
Yes the audio description is great in the fact that it pauses at sensible intervals. The actual describer on the tapes don't go on and on because like you say if you're in a group of people you feel completely alienated if you've got the headsets working.

Warner
We wanted to allow visitors who take the audio guide - blind and partially sighted visitors - to have as an independent experience as we can possibly make it. I don't think we can make it 100% independent and certainly the feedback from our blind and partially sighted visitors who were consulted on the audio guide they all said, particularly if they were completely blind, no I wouldn't come to a site like this without a sighted companion. So we do feel it's best experienced with a sighted companion but we hope that you can do it without a huge amount of assistance, in a building which is, when all is said and done, a very, very large open space with lots of pointy aircraft in it.

This is a Short Sunderland ....

Baxter
Oh they're enormous.

Warner
What you're feeling there is the edge of the side as it goes into the boat shaped hull.

Baxter
Oh my goodness me.

Warner
And down towards the keel.

Baxter
Can you feel that Mani?

Warner
And so underneath it's just like a boat.

Djazmi
Well this is another exhibit I've been especially looking forward to touching. It's a cockpit of a Hawker Hunter plane. Really I don't know anything about these planes, what were they used for?

Baxter
Well this aircraft saw service in the '50s, right the way through the Cold War. It's the iconic image of a fighter jet and it's all rounded and smooth and aerodynamic and it's a beautiful aircraft to look at.

Djazmi
And while you were listening to the audio description you were feeling around the cockpit and tapping it and this is where audio description really comes into its own because it's one thing being told in great detail what all the other planes look like but this is where it really counts, isn't it, to have a description but also to be able to touch something.

Baxter
Nine times out of 10 most of these places the visitor is unable to actually pick the object up. As you know yourself - our eyes are now our fingers and hands and if we can put a hand or a finger to that object it paints a thousand pictures in our mind of what is being explained. And this exhibition does this amazingly.

Djazmi
And my thanks to Billy Baxter and Carl Warner from Duxford. And the audio description was provided by Antena Audio.

Finally, finding a job if you're blind or partially sighted has never been easy. The rates of employment among visually impaired people in this country is still very low. A traditional means of tackling this problem in South Korea has been to ring-fence the profession of masseur in favour of blind and partially sighted people but this has caused the country's sighted masseurs, who operate illegally and risk being fined or even a jail sentence if they're caught, to accuse the authorities of discrimination. A fortnight ago, a group of them appealed to the country's constitutional court, arguing that it violates their vocational freedom. John Sudworth is the BBC's correspondent in South Korea, who told me how that appeal got on:

Sudworth
Well they lost. Blind people have won the right for this protection - this special employment protection - to continue. It actually dates back decades. It was originally granted by a government directive during the Japanese colonial era in 1913 and blind people have had this legal monopoly on commercial massage every since.

Djazmi
And you've been speaking to some blind masseurs, what have they been telling you?

Sudworth
It's odd in a way because I think they themselves would recognise that in many parts of the world some blind people would see this as a patronising excuse for a lack of equality. But they say that the reality in South Korea is that this is a valuable protection for a vulnerable minority.

Djazmi
And I understand John that passions have been really stirred on both sides by this furore.

Sudworth
Well that's right. There have been noisy demonstrations on the streets of the South Korean capital Seoul. There's been a huge amount of press coverage. And blind masseurs have simply shown that they're not going to give up this right without a fight. There have even been some cases of blind people throwing themselves off bridges into the main river running through Seoul. The police have been on hand to pluck those protestors from the water and thankfully although there have been a few injuries there have as yet been no deaths. But it gives you a sense of just high passions are running.

Djazmi
What's been the reaction of the general public in Korea?

Sudworth
The fact is there are massage parlours on almost every street corner in some districts of South Korean cities. They're very popular and in large part they're staffed by sighted masseurs who run the risk of legal sanction of course for doing so. But often they're tolerated, the police do turn a blind eye, it seems most of the time. And the public seem to accept this legal protection for blind masseurs as simply a way of providing some kind of employment backstop against the possibility of not finding work elsewhere. But on the broader issues I think there's an accepted view that South Korea does lag behind many developed economies, it came to the club of rich economic nations rather late, and the government admits as much. It says that the rapid advance of the economy has left many people behind and for now the government would like this special employment protection for blind people to continue. Which is exactly what the constitution court has found in its ruling.

Djazmi
John Sudworth reporting.

Well joining me now is Philippa Simkiss, who's head of employment and life long learning at the RNIB:

Is this blind only law replicated anywhere else in the world?

Simkiss
Not as far as I know but if we think back 20 years in the UK the expectations amongst society for the kind of jobs blind and partially sighted people might do here was really very narrow. We had telephonists or switchboard operators and people worked in factories. And apart from a few exceptions that was more or less it.

Djazmi
What is the current statistic on the rate of unemployment among visually impaired people?

Simkiss
Sixty six per cent of blind and partially sighted people are not in work. There has been discussion of some radical steps but it's really important to remember an individual's choice and to consider their own aspirations - what do they want to do with their career, with their life - and it's important to skill people with training and information in order to make those choices independently I think.

Djazmi
Why is the unemployment rate so high because with the boom in disability awareness training and developments in IT one would think that there are more job opportunities for visually impaired people these days?

Simkiss
One of the things that has changed amongst employment for blind and partially sighted people is the range of jobs that they do. It's true that the rate of employment hasn't increased enough since the Disability Discrimination Act, for example, but the range of jobs people do certainly has increased. And that's a good thing - people are in the workplace working amongst sighted peers and being a living message that blind and partially sighted people can do a wide range of things.

Djazmi
How relevant is the fact that a very tiny minority - something like 10% of blind people - read Braille?

Simkiss
Literacy is very important in terms of securing employment - being literate and numerate and being able to demonstrate that skill is important for any job really. So access to literacy is important for blind and partially sighted people and making sure that they have those skills, whether that's through Braille or through access technology is the key.

Djazmi
What lessons do you think we can learn from other parts of the world - for instance we have this law in South Korea, in Spain ONCE, which is the RNIB's counterpart there, also runs the National Lottery and there are similar ventures in Germany?

Simkiss
In Spain the role of lottery ticket seller is set aside for blind and partially sighted people. I have been there and spoken to folk who are doing this work and they earn enough money to support their family, some that I met were saving for early retirement and very confident that they would be able to afford to do that and were satisfied with that, it's important for us not to judge I think because we have a different way of thinking in this country. In Germany they still have a quota system which requires employers to recruit and retain a certain proportion of their workforce of disabled people and those employers who don't do that are required to pay a levy and that money is used to support training programmes for disabled people. But the interesting outcome of all of these different legislative systems is the employment rate of blind people is much the same across the different countries that we've talked about. So we need to think why that is, what needs to change in society for the employment rate to go up.

Djazmi
Philippa Simkiss thanks very much indeed for joining us.

And that's it for this week. If you want information on any of the items you've heard, you can call our action line on 0800 044 044 or you can e-mail us via the In Touch website with your thoughts and ideas. You'll also be able to hear a podcast of the programme from that website from tomorrow.

Peter's back next week but until we meet again, from me, Mani Djazmi, my producer, Joe Kent, and the rest of the team, goodbye.



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