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BBC Radio 4 In Touch
2nd December 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


SIR JOHN WALL CBE

In Touch remembered the life of Sir John Wall who died this week.

Sir John Wall was the first blind person in modern times to be appointed Deputy High Court Master in 1990 until his retirement at the end of 2002 and was Chair of the RNIB for ten years.

Peter spoke to the current Chair of the RNIB, Lord Low, about Sir John’s contributions to the welfare of the visually impaired.


CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

Mani Djazmi reported on what items would make good Christmas presents for people with a visual impairment.

Amongst the items he looked at were:
  • liquid level indicators which hook on to the side of cups and beep when reached
  • braille watches
  • audio books
  • talking iPod Nano
  • a box of chocolates with a braille menu
Products mentioned in the interview at the RNIB shop: Talking kitchen timer and clock: £8.76 Travel Clock: £14.95 Doro HandleEasy 326 Mobile Phone: £88.08 Voice Recording Memo: £3.86 Olympus Digital Voice Recorder DS30: £127.22 Olympus Digital Voice Recorder DS40: £176.16 Olympus Digital Voice Recorder DS50: £225.10 LED Cupboard Lights: £4.84 Pure Sonus DAB Radio: £98 Pure Move Portable DAB Radio: £78.29 Octotunes Toy: £18.58 Touch and Match Games: £19.56 Chess: £18.11 Ludo: £14.66

Peter also mentioned the website
www.braillecards.co.uk
for Braille Christmas cards.

Mani also visited the RNIB's shop in London where one of the staff, Tim Reynolds, ran through their stock.

CONTACT

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.


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.




The BBC is not responsible for external websites 

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Transcript

IN TOUCH

TX: 02.12.08 2040-2100


PRESENTER: PETER WHITE

PRODUCER: CHERYL GABRIEL

White
Good Evening. Later today: the In Touch personal shopper service for those
who'll be defying the credit crunch to buy Christmas presents for their visually-impaired friends and relatives. But first, it's with great sadness that we have to report the death of Sir John Wall. It's a personal sadness - he was a good friend and regular and lively contributor to this programme - but
much more than that, he played a huge role in the politics of visual impairment for well over 40 years. He was chair of the RNIB for the decade which spanned the '90s, and he also played a major role in European and international developments. By profession he was a lawyer, and in 1991 he was appointed as the Deputy Court High Master, a post which meant he was often described as Britain's first modern-day blind judge.

Well joining us from Belfast is Lord Low, who's the RNIB's current chair. Lord Low, give us a picture of Sir John, the kind of man he was?

Low
Well he was a giant of a man Peter. You've summarised many of his involvements in the visual impairment world. He was a member of RNIB's executive council for 38 years, believe it or not, and, as you say, became the chair. But I think probably what he'll most be remembered for is raising RNIB's international work on to a new plain. He appreciated that we could only deliver some of our objectives for blind and partially sighted people in this country by influencing the European Commission. And both as chairman of RNIB and as first secretary general and then president of the European Blind Union he had a lot to do with mobilising pressure on the European Commission. And more broadly as chairman of the UK Disability Forum for European Affairs he really led the British disability movement into Europe in the '90s.

White
And I guess also I mean the years in which he was very active were the years in which blind people played a more and more important part in the regulation of their own affairs.

Low
That's very true. But what I would very much want to stress is that his achievements and his influence extended well beyond RNIB and indeed well beyond the visual impairment sphere. He was chairman of the Southern Regional Association for the Blind, when it existed; the Middlesex Association; the Wireless for the Blind Fund.

White
And can you just say a little bit about him as a lawyer because as I said he rose to a very high point for a blind lawyer didn't he?

Low
Well absolutely, he was a very successful solicitor, first of all in the trade union movement, he was solicitor for NALGO for a good number of years and then he went into private practice when, as he liked to say, when he wanted to earn a bit more money. And as you pointed out he really blazed a trail as the first blind person to be appointed to the judiciary in modern times. And so I think it's fair to say that both by his example and his work he did a huge amount for blind people and for the standing of blind people in the community.

White
Also joining us is Michael Hill, who's known John Wall since their schooldays together over 63 years. So Michael, more personally, what was he like?

Hill
Well a very good long standing friend to me and all sorts of other people, is what stands out. I suppose clubbable...

White
He was very gregarious wasn't he.

Hill
Very gregarious, lots of good stories all the time, perhaps certainly trivial but then that's often the coming and going of people when they meet together. Unmalicious. I was first obviously impressed by him when we were young together because he was two years younger than the average age of the form in which I was when in 1944 we all took our school certificate - GCSE in modern lingo - he was 14 and the rest of us were all 16s and 17 year olds and nevertheless he got the best school certificate of our cohort.

White
He was also, wasn't he, an extremely fine chess player?

Hill
He was indeed and he was editor of the chess magazine I think after Mr Bonham, the maths master at the time, gave it up. He beat the reigning world chess champion - a man called Dr Max Euwe - in a simultaneous where the visiting chess chap has a room full of say 20 other people, it was, in fact 20 on that occasion and the visitor goes round making a move on each board in a circular fashion as it were and everybody else lost but John Wall beat him fairly easily, there was a big post mortem on the match afterwards by Mr Bonham, the maths master and chess champion, and we were all gob smacked is the term.

White
He must have been a very young man at the time.

Hill
He was, in fact this was in 1944 when he was 14.

White
And I think you were still very much a group of friends, weren't you, you were still having regular meals and dinners together.

Hill
Yes this is four of us in particular, we met fairly frequently, let's say once every month, six weeks, over in Redhill.

White
Just to go back finally to Lord Low. I mean a man of enormous energy and I think he was still working on a load of projects right up till the end?

Hill
Right up to the day he died. And you asked, Peter, about the law, he helped to found the Society of Visually Impaired Lawyers and was involved with a group for solicitors with disabilities but he wasn't just a passive joiner, he couldn't get involved in anything without becoming fully committed and engaged. And he wasn't just a figurehead, you could always turn to John to do the donkey work. As often as not he would be the secretary, not the chairman. And he was a very human person, as Michael has said, he would go to the ends of the earth to help anyone who needed assistance with legal advice or somebody who wanted a constitution writing. I totted up once, I think he was responsible for the constitution of eight organisations of visually impaired people.

White
He'll be sadly missed. Lord Low, Michael Hill - thank you both very much indeed. And of course our sympathy goes out to Sir John's family and all his many friends. I'll particularly remember booking him for a local any questions session for our local voluntary organisation for blind people, he was an absolutely sparkling contributor.

Now my wife assures me that people often draw her aside and ask worriedly: "What on earth can we get Peter for Christmas?". It's not, I think, that I'm particularly demanding or hard to please; just that, well, as a visually-impaired person, I must have very specialised needs, mustn't I, that have to be catered for. Well, no; I'm quite happy with the usual, booze, ties and socks, although a bit more imagination is always welcome. But it is true that there is an increasingly large amount of "stuff" around geared to visually impaired people's needs, and it's expanding all the time. So we thought it was high time we sent Mani Djazmi off to establish just what would make good presents this year.

Mani, what did you find?

Djazmi
Well there's a mixture really between the old stalwart favourites and the new high tech gizmos. So amongst the old favourites we've got the good old liquid level indicator.

White
Ah, now I have to - that's the first thing I ever reviewed, the first gadget I ever reviewed on this programme and it's the thing of course, for those who don't know, that you kind of dangle over your cup of tea or your glass of scotch and it bleeps when the liquid touches the little point. I take it it's still the same, it hasn't been upgraded.

Djazmi
No I think it's remained in its perfectly formed self. Also a range of Braille watches and expanding range of audio books. Among the innovations there's the talking iPod Nano, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. I have to say that one of the best presents I've ever received was from my friend Hannah, which was a box of chocolates with a Braille menu inside.

White
Really, that's a great idea.

Djazmi
It was a great idea because for the first time ever it wasn't a case of picking out a chocolate and not knowing what it tasted like until it was inside your mouth. The menu literally told you row by row which flavour chocolates were in their individual compartments.

White
So you could miss out the ones with the toffees, like my mum always used to do?

Djazmi
Absolutely, and the liquorice and leave those for other people to endure. And I wanted to find out where she got this from so I typed into my search engine the word Braille cards and when you do that then you get a number of websites which not only provide Braille menus for chocolate boxes but also Braille cards as well for Christmas and all sorts of other occasions too.

Well for an overview of the Christmas present scene I visited the RNIB's shop in London where Tim Reynolds went through what they have to offer.

Reynolds
We'll start with the kitchen timer come clock which has been around for a little while but still people quite interested in it because there's a lot of people like to do their cooking and even one or two people have sold them to people going down the gym and obviously they can stick it to the side of the treadmill and time themselves as they're running.

Djazmi
And fast forward it.

Reynolds
Yes if they like to. So it's got a little stand so you can actually stand it up, like a talking clock, or if you want to use it more like a timer the stand folds in and then there's also a magnet on the back which again allows you to stick it to say a kitchen surface or piece of equipment.

There's three buttons along the top. You've got a button for the hour, button for the minute [talking timer] and another button for the seconds [talking timer]. Every so often it will speak the time to remind you how long you've got but when it gets down to say 10 seconds it will speak every single second and then it'll sound an alarm [talking timer]. The alarm sounds, you've also got different types [alarm sounds].

Djazmi
I was going to say because that cuckoo didn't really sound urgent enough to me. And this is particularly useful I suppose if you're cooking in the kitchen, because at the moment what I do I just use the timer on my microwave but if you need to use your microwave as part of the banquet that you're preparing.

Reynolds
Exactly. The other advantage is obviously this one can be set so if there's a time you're always using, say if you're always cooking pasta, and you always cook it for 10 minutes you can save that time and then just recall it at the touch of a button.

Djazmi
And how much will this set you back?

Reynolds
It costs £8.95.

The next item is quite a new one, it's a travel clock, it's got a large clear display, it also talks to you [Talking clock]. But it also vibrates when the alarm's set, so the idea is if you have hearing problems and say you've taken your hearing aids out during the night you can put the clock underneath your pillow and then it will vibrate rather than ring to wake you up.

Djazmi
And how much is that?

Reynolds
£14.95.

Djazmi
And this time of year what typically fly off the shelf most commonly?

Reynolds
At the moment we're experiencing a lot of interest in mobile phones, particularly large print ones come on to the market fairly recently, like the Doro Handle Easy. People are buying for their parents who may or may not particularly have a visual impairment but generally because these are bigger they're very useful for the elderly in any case. The second thing which we've seen a bit of an upshoot in is in different recording devices. We've got a very simple one called the iMemo which a lot of people would find very easy, which you can use for recording your shopping lists or phone numbers. But we also have Olympus recorders which are a bit more complex and high tech but again they're very good for recording your memos or your shopping lists and phone numbers.

Djazmi
And what about if you're sighted and you have a visually impaired relative or friend and you're not quite sure what to get them, do you get many inquiries from fully sighted people?

Reynolds
Quite a few actually. The difficulty is if you've got a visually impaired relative who's got all the practical bits what then do you get them and that's a big problem but because we've had quite a few new products come in this year since the summer this Christmas there's quite a lot of scope for actually getting somebody something new, say one of the recorders or if they have got sight we've got various different types of lights, including cupboard lights which are a very recent addition to our range which can be used to light kitchen cupboards or any dark area without the need of plugs and wiring because it all runs off batteries.

Djazmi
What about digital radios because they're still very popular, particularly the talking ones?

Reynolds
Yes the Pure Sonus is still very popular, in fact it's probably more popular than all the other radios that we do. But there have been some such as the Pure Move which people have liked and that's been due to its size and portability.

Djazmi
And do any of these talk?

Reynolds
Only the Sonus talks at the moment.

Djazmi
And how much are the Sonus?

Reynolds
£98.

Djazmi
So we've had a look at functional practical stuff but Christmas is all about having fun so what about kids, what have you got for young children?

Reynolds
[Toy demonstration]

Djazmi
That almost sounds tuneful.

Reynolds
Er yes. This is the Octotunes toy which is an Octopus, which is a nice cuddly toy, but when you squeeze its tentacles [musical notes]. The idea is when they're doing the nursery rhymes or whatever they can pick up the notes, so it's a way of having a bit of fun, playing some music and also it's just a nice cuddly toy as well. It's nice and bright, there's lots of different patterns on his tentacles and each one's got a different colour, so again it's very good if you're partially sighted as well as totally blind. The cost of the Octotunes is £18.58. [musical note]

White
Well Tim Reynolds, well that wasn't Tim Reynolds but he was the one who was talking. Mani, thanks very much indeed. Do stay with us because we weren't just prepared to take your word for everything so we've actually been asking a selection of blind and partially sighted people what they'd like to find in their pillowcase on Christmas morning. Beginning with the undemanding Emma Tracey, a reporter on the BBC's website for disabled people, Ouch!

Tracey
I want a mini laptop so that I can have a pen and paper substitute in my handbag. It would just be amazing, it would be an accessible MP3 player, a newspaper, everything, all in my big handbag because I have very big handbags.

Rose
I've been saying for years and years and years that I really want to get into making my own curries and so I'm really going to go for it this year, I've asked for all sorts of things and spices and pods and beans and sticks and things that you need to make the perfect curry. I need some kind of Braille curry recipe book, I'm not entirely sure if one of those exists but hopefully it would be nice and non absorbent as well. So that's one of the things I want. Another thing I want is a digital radio for the shower because I went and destroyed the last one. You know how blind people like to have lots and lots of noise going on all over the place, have to have noise.

Martinnsson
There are actually two things that I really, really want. One of them is a talking calorie counter, so that I can see how many calories I'm burning when I exercise. The second one would be, and I don't know even if this exists, but a Pilates CD with like Pilates instructions that are very descriptive so that I can't basically do them wrong just by listening to the CD.

White
Well that was Linn Martinnsson, now working with BBC 1's Blue Peter and before that you also heard from Damon Rose who seems a bit vague about curries.

But of course that nervousness that I described earlier is about the fear of getting us something inappropriate. So we also took the precaution of asking the same people what they didn't want. Here are just a few of their replies:

Tracey
It's kind of a love/hate relationship. I would not like an iPhone, I actually would like one, it would be brilliant, but I can't use it, so don't get me one but I'm very sad about that.

Rose
Probably I don't want someone to give me a computer that's got Microsoft Vista on it because it just doesn't work properly.

Martinnsson
I think I have to go with the iPhone because it's really, really cool but it's so not accessible.

White
So thumbs down for the iPhone there. Mani, let me put it to you, what's your own choice?

Djazmi
Well I think I should probably ask for a microphone of my own because I've been busted by the powers that be, here at Radio 4, for not returning a microphone I loaned out when I should have done.

White
Right, which is very expensive. I want - and the thing that really makes me very excited and we've talked about it on this programme before - it's just the fact that people can now get me books. I don't mean great big bulky Braille books I mean print books because - because we can now scan, and we've talked about this technique, means someone can go into one of the big stores and get me the book of my choice this Christmas. So that's very exciting. As for what not to get me: don't get me a radio. Not because I don't love radios but at the last count I'd got 18 and it might lead to the divorce courts. Anything definitely off your list?

Djazmi
I'm very clear about this and I have to contribute to what you said at the start of this item Pete because socks, ties, aftershave, jumpers are just so unimaginative, if you're thinking of getting me that just don't bother, I mean I'm not - I'm just not interested. It shows a lack of imagination and lack of effort and just going through the motions, which isn't what Christmas is about.

White
You're a hard man Mani.

That's it for today but there'll be some more examples of most wanted and unwanted presents next week. If you'd like to check anything on the programme today or suggest issues you'd like us to cover call us on 0800 044 044 or you can e-mail us via In Touch and don't forget you can download a podcast of the programme from tomorrow. So for today from me, Peter White, and my producer, Cheryl Gabriel who, incidentally, regards this as one of her favourite presents of all time ...[electronic noise], well we'll reveal all next week but it's available from the RSPB if you want a clue. Goodbye.

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