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Tuesday 11 November 2003

Listen to the In Touch for 11 November 2003

AIRLINE SERVICES FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED

Guest
Gary O'Donoghue, BBC reporter

On last week's programme we returned to the issue of whether British Midland (BMI) had an appropriate meet-and-greet policy for blind and partially sighted people and were once again assured by BMI that despite another case of this happening, this was not their policy. Gary O'Donoghue, the BBC reporter who first brought this to our attention, flew back with British Midland from Belfast last week and explains how he was faced yet again with the same predicament. BMI released the following statement, as there was no senior spokesperson available to comment:

"Whilst set procedures are in place for travellers with reduced mobility on BMI/BMI Baby services, there is clearly room for improvement as recent experiences highlighted on the In Touch programme have shown.

Please be assured that BMI takes the needs of disabled travellers very seriously. Relevant training and education of our staff will of course follow, but, as with most large companies, change will inevitably take a while to implement across all levels.

Having commented recently on two individual cases, all involving similar problems, there is no further comment for BMI to make at this stage".

CONTACTS

BMI BABY

AIR TRANSPORT USERS COUNCIL
CAA House
45-59 Kingsway
London WC2B 6TE
Tel: 020 7240 6061
Consumer Advice: 9am-12noon and 2-5pm Monday-Friday
Fax: 020 7240 7071
Consumer watchdog for the airline industry. Advises air travellers on their rights in response to individual enquiries and by publishing educational material. Takes up individual cases and helps passengers obtain redress where they have been badly treated. Promotes the wider interests of airline passengers with the regulatory authorities and service providers.

DISABLED PERSONS TRANSPORT ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Advises the UK Government on access for disabled people to transport.

DISABILITY RIGHTS COMMISSION (DRC)
Freepost MID 02164
Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 9BR
Tel: 08457 622 633
Textphone: 08457 622 644
Email: enquiries@drc-gb.org
Aims to act as a central source of advice on the rights of disabled people, helps disabled people secure their rights and eliminate discrimination. Advises on the operation of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

ACCESSIBLE NEWSPAPER WEBSITES

Guests
Robin Christopherson, AbilityNet,
Gary O'Donoghue, BBC reporter

Do national newspapers consider visually impaired people when they set out their websites? Not very well according to the latest survey produced by AbilityNet, an independent organisation that advises on technology for disabled people.

Robin Christopherson, of AbilityNet, talks about his expectations of the newspapers and explains why visually impaired people would want to use their websites.

Gary O'Donoghue, tells Peter that rather than using websites he prefers to use the services of the Talking Newspaper Association of the UK (TNAUK). TNAUK is an organisation providing over 200 titles of national newspapers and periodicals in various formats for blind and partially sighted readers.

NEWSPAPERS STATEMENTS ON ACCESSIBLE WEBSITES

The Sun
The Sun has been in consultation with the RNIB since May this year to assess areas of difficulty for blind or visually impaired people wishing to access The Sun Online. Our development team have visited the RNIB headquarters to look at accessibility issues and have been advised on ways to improve certain areas of the site. We are pleased to monitor accessibility and continue to take guidance as required.

The FT
The Financial Times is aware that its website, FT.com is not as accessible to partially sighted users as it could be. We are looking at this and aim to address these issues in any future developments.

Daily Mirror
Mirror.co.uk takes the issue of disabled access very seriously, and naturally we want the site's content to be available to as many people as possible. We have noted the findings of the report and are looking at what steps can be taken to improve the site's accessibility.

The Times
Over the past year we have been working very closely with The Royal Institute of the Blind to understand how we can improve our website for our blind and visually impaired users, and we are just about to start discussions with Abilitynet to look at further ways of improving our service. We take this issue very seriously.

Telegraph
Telegraph Group Limited and its subsidiary Hollinger Telegraph New Media Limited (telegraph.co.uk) agree with the principles outlined by the Discrimination Act 1995 and are committed to making their services available to all wherever possible. We recognise the importance of website accessibility for those with a disability and therefore consistently try to improve the accessibility of telegraph.co.uk. We have created a project group within telegraph.co.uk to assess the work that we may need to carry out in order to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act. We will also be consulting interested individuals and parties to review the project and to invite any further recommendations.

CONTACTS

ABILITYNET
An online resource championing IT for People With Disabilities.

TALKING NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED KINGDOM (TNAUK)
The National Recording Centre
10 Browning Road
Heathfield
East Sussex TN21 OAU
Enquiries: 01435 866102
Provides 200 national newspapers and publications for blind and partially sighted people. Subscribers can receive titles in various formats, which are tape, floppy disk or daily papers can be sent on email. A weekly CD ROM is also available. The price varies depending on how many titles a person request, but their Value Pack subscription, which is the cheapest, costs 30 per year and allows between 1-3 titles.

RORY BREMNER IMPERSONATING DAVID BLUNKET

Guests
Rory Bremner, impressionist
Dan Vale, RNIB

Following the RNIB's press release criticising the use of mockery of David Blunkett's blindness the programme looks at the pitfalls of impersonating the famous when they happen to have a disability as well. Impressionist Rory Bremner gives his view, along with Dan Vale from the RNIB. David Blunkett was unable to join the discussion but sent the following statement:

"The Home Secretary is deeply relaxed about the impersonation. As a high-profile politician, the Home Secretary would expect there to be satirical impersonations of him".

Rory Bremner said that he felt it was a compliment to David Blunkett that he does an accurate impression of him although as far as Rory is concerned the blindness element is not the point or source of his humour, more a visual detail. He also asked Dan Vale how he should approach an impression of David Blunkett and Dan said he should impersonate him without making fun of his blindness. David Blunket has the condition Nystagmus.

NYSTAGMUS CONTACT

NYSTAGMUS NETWORK
13 Tinsley Close
Claypole
Newark
Nottinghamshire NG23 5BS
Tel: 01636 627 004
Email: info@nystagmusnet.org
UK-based self-help group providing support for adults and children with nystagmus, their parents and teachers and fostering research into the condition.

GENERAL CONTACTS

RNIB
105 Judd Street
London WC1 H9NE
Tel: 0845 766 99 99 (UK callers only - Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
Tel: 0207 388 1266 (switchboard/overseas callers)
Textphone users call via Typetalk: 0800 51 51 52

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

THE GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND ASSOCIATION (GDBA)
Burghfield Common
Reading RG7 3YG
Tel: 0870 600 2323

ACTION FOR BLIND PEOPLE
14-16 Verney Road
London SE16 3DZ
Tel: 020 7635 4800

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF THE BLIND AND DISABLED
Central Office
Swinton House
324 Grays Inn Road
London WC1X 8DD
Tel: 020 7837 6103
Fax: 020 7278 0436
Textphone: 020 7837 6103
Registered trade union involved in all issues regarding the employment of blind and disabled people in the UK.

NATIONAL LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND
Far Cromwell Road
Bredbury
Stockport SK6 2SG
Tel: 0161 355 2000
Email: enquiries@nlbuk.org

DIRECTORY ENQUIRIES
Tel: 195
This service is free if you are blind or partially sighted.

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