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Ouch! moves to BBC News

Damon Rose Damon Rose | 12:22 UK time, Wednesday, 8 June 2011

You will notice a few changes to Ouch! in the coming weeks. The service is now moving across to BBC News after a successful ten years within the BBC Learning family of websites.

In BBC News, we hope to bring diverse disability stories and context to a broader audience whilst also maintaining a conversation with the disability community.

As part of the move, older articles, videos and audio from the last ten years will still be available in our archive. The Ouch! blog will be the main site you reach when you tap in our familiar address

The web and BBC Online have changed a lot over the last decade and we believe it's now time to close the Ouch! messageboard. You regularly tell us that our current service doesn't always deliver the kind of interaction and relationships you want and, indeed, the BBC realises there are now many more effective ways to involve its audience. Social networking is immensely enabling and has outclassed what we can provide in terms of specialisms, privacy and personal connections for this community. Plus it brings great control: you are able to block unwanted users and manage your personal interactions more immediately and effectively.

Ian Hunter, Managing editor of BBC Online, recently wrote a blog entry about the BBC's approach to messageboards and social media explaining how we intend to move forward. Ouch! will continue to be a place where you can feedback on disability matters alongside the content on our blog, via Facebook and Twitter.

The messageboard will close on Wednesday 6 July. That gives us almost a month to help you find each other again. In the final week, we will see how this process has gone and help out if need be.

We have our own Ouch! Facebook page and we encourage you to pop along there now and 'like' us; a quick and easy way of staying in touch with your online friends. When the board has closed, you can continue to comment on our blog with your messageboard login.

Our podcast, The Ouch! Talk Show, will remain a regular fixture. Now in its fifth year, with three awards under its belt, we shall continue to make the undiscussable, discussable - to partially coin a phrase. The show will remain available on the BBC's main podcast site.

Read more about the move on the Editor's Blog.


  • Comment number 1.

    I feel that closing the Ouch! messageboard will be a big mistake on the part of the BBC. As a long time user of various messageboards, I feel that they provide more of a community than Facebook ever could, and will be a great upheaval to those who have used Ouch for a long time.
    Personally, I am very grateful to the existence of the board - yes, there are blog posts and articles, but that just isn't the same as a messageboard where the user can create the content and spark conversation. I found out much information and personal perspectives that I wouldn't get from a blog post.
    I think this is a bad move on the part of the BBC, and that you should seriously reconsider it.

  • Comment number 2.

    To whom do we address our disgust at the Ouch Message Boards being taken down?.

    Is it the BBC Trust?

    I realise the licence fee has been frozen for a period of years in this tough economic climate, however there are other ways for the BBC to save moneyrather than try to palm its loyal disabled users of Ouch off commercial 'Social Networking' sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

    I have never found the attraction of this 'Social Networking' or indeed being told I must say whatever I have to say in 140 characters!.

    A letter of complaint is on its way to the BBC Trust anyway.


  • Comment number 3.

    I fully support the comment by aichnas. As a person with a mental health disability, I do not feel safe using social media like Facebook, and I am sure this applies to many others. Message boards provide an environment in which people can interact with several others simultaneously rather than one-to-one private communication. Blogs, Twitter and Facebook *cannot* replace this. Please think again before removing what has been for many years a much-valued resource for many disabled people.

  • Comment number 4.

    You are about to remove one of the biggest sites of support and information I know of. Every other site I know of is disability or illness specific. This is the only place which draws people together regardless of their background. I have learned more about disabilities other than my own and there is nowhere else I could have done so. This is vitally important.

    Furthermore this is the place we come to in order to discuss the blogs and articles we read and to share them. Nothing you talk about will replace that.

    This comes out of the blue and no one I know of has expressed a desire for this to happen. Quite the opposite this has been feared for a while, not wanted.

    The disability community is already badly served by the BBC. Had the impact on them been thought through by the removal of this messageboard? Are alternatives provided by the BBC going to be put in place? Facebook is not a BBC product and is not available to all and cannot be counted as something they are providing.

    It sounds to me like a disability resource is being removed with nothing being put in its place and no consideration made to the effect this is going to have on its users. I urge you to reconsider this very quickly. The BBC after all has a duty to provide for all people paying for it.

  • Comment number 5.

    "You regularly tell us that our current service doesn't always deliver the kind of interaction and relationships you want and, indeed, the BBC realises there are now many more effective ways to involve its audience."......

    all very well but I doubt that CLOSING a popular messageboard and shifting everyone out to FB & Twitter will solve those 'problems'. And many people I know are very unhappy about security of information on THOSE sites.

    I'm staggered that a disability-related board is being done away with when sites like the Archer's boards can run completely unchecked. It's disgraceful.

  • Comment number 6.












  • Comment number 7.

    Can I please see the impact assessment and consultation process?

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 8.

    As the BBC already has my full contact details available via my login via my BBC ID I hereby formally request a copy of the detailed equalities impact assessment that has been carried out together with a list of who, if anybody, within the disabled community has been consulted about this major change in the BBC's services to disabled people along with an explanation for the exclusion of us existing users of the messageboards in that process.

    Knowing my background as you do I am sure that you fully appreciate that this request is just the precursor to possibly making a legal challenge to your plans as I believe closing the messageboards premptively and without due regard for your obligations under the DED and other Equalities legislation may well be illegal.

    Yours truly

    Peter J Farrington (aka Sociable)

  • Comment number 9.

    I think that closing the message boards is a terrible mistake, it is an excellent community and a place where we can learn. Social network sites can never replace a message board, they are two completely different types of social interaction. Plus, one of the reason that many people like these boards is the annonimity, and the fact that they can talk about absolutely anything which is bothering them, without having to worry about what people might think of them. Using facebook or similar will remove this safety, and will greatly stiffle the sharing of information. Please rethink your decision, this board is unique in it's catering for all disabled people, and we really don't want to lose it

  • Comment number 10.

    Who is the "we " who have decided this ???

    I certainly dont recall anyone asking "us " the ouch messageboard users users, so looks as if this is something yet again being imposed on disabled people whether for financial or " we know whats best for you reasons "

    The being allowed to comment on the things that the OUCH team decide to look at is only anygood if what the team thinks are pertient are what site users think is pertinent.. Personally I feel this is the BBC corporation shutting down those subjects that they dont want comments on, for fear of some sort of government reprisal. Id bet that with in the schemeof things the main sites subjects will remain relatively safe and be unchallenging to anyone with any sort of power.

    At the moment Im very anger and feel betrayed.. will possibly write more whenmy anger has cooled a bit and I can find the words I want to use to politely ask questions and raise points .. jo.. AKA myrtlemaid

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm a regular reader of the Ouch Messageboard but only intermittently read other content on the Ouch part of the BBC site. The Ouch! messageboard is a valuable resource to society as a whole but particularly to those who have disability-related issues.

    I'm startled at this decision. It seems utterly illogical.

    As others have asked, please produce your impact studies.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am a regular reader and contributer to the OUCh messageboards and am utterly outraged by the BBC's plan to close them. Only last month I was helped by the good people on OUCH to deal with a very bad experience; and I wouldn't have known who to cope with it without their kindess and help.This is the only part of the BBC dedicated to the needs of the disabled community and should remain as our life line. If you want to cut some services why not start with The World Service, or some of the lesser radio stations, and BBC's 3 4 and 7 could easily be combined.

  • Comment number 13.

    DISGUSTING! How can you close this messageboard?! Its been a lifeline for me since my diagnosis. Its the one place I can talk about not just pain but my inner feelings that I cant share with people I know. Chatting with some people on the messageboards has helped me immensly & has truely picked me up when Ive been at my lowest.
    Once again some idiot decides to do something with no thought for anyone it will affect!
    Why should we lose out on this lifeline?!

  • Comment number 14.

    I object strongly to the removal of the message boards! This is probably the single most important part of the OUCH! website and as such should be the very LAST thing the BBC considers removing!

    Lots of people don't have access to Facebook or just don't like it (I don't) and prefer instead to post and discuss certain topics and a totally safe and supportive environment without the risk of on-line bullying. I do hope the BBC will reconsider their decision to remove this essential service.

  • Comment number 15.

    Absolutely disgusted. As members of Ouch why haven't we been afforded the courtesy of input of opinion to this plan?

    To see our feelings have been of no importance to who ever decided to close the forum down is an insult.

    PLEASE reconsider, we've been kicked in the teeth enough lately with changes to disability-related benefits and care.

    Show YOU care and leaves the forum, alone!

  • Comment number 16.

    Hey, BBC (by now, about as "British" as the CIA) far as I'm concerned, you can shove Facebook and Twitter up your own Google. Ah, but of course dumbed-down bubblegum is pretty much your entire ethos these days, isn't it.....
    Were the posters on "Ouch" too critical of the Government?
    RT is a much more interesting tv channel anyway -- at least it still does "news" and isn't sycophantic to gauleiter Cameron.

  • Comment number 17.

    Only yesterday, whilst looking for something to watch or listen to on iplayer, I observed yet again that there are only two regular disability programmes - See Hear and In Touch. For short periods of the year, there is also All in the Mind, although that tends to be research-orientated rather than disability-orientated.

    I had felt that this messageboard was a gesture to make up for the appalling lack of disability programming and now we are to lose this. As far as I'm concerned, here starts the battle for more disability programming. If you don't want to spend your money on messageboards, then at least have the decency to apply equality to your radio and television output.

  • Comment number 18.

    Have already aired my views on this issue via the message board. One query I do have - if there is anyone able to answer it, is; in this era of equality, was the decision to close Ouch taken by anyone who is disabled or indeed uses it themselves? I seriously doubt it. As already said, no functioning blog system will enabled discussion to the depth taking place on this board - all of us in time of trouble or simple confusion have turned to it - I used Facebook for two days and have received more junk mail than I ever knew before cancelling the account - trying to decipher genuine from bad is not difficult on Ouch - and as a supportive & protective group - how on earth do you think will match this on an open blog page? At least be honest, cut the crap & we really don't want you anymore but the excuses you list are really beyond pathetic.

  • Comment number 19.

    As you can see from the number of comments which have been posted here and on the messageboard, this LUDICROUS decision isn't very popular and I can't believe people sat in their ivory towers ever thought it would be.

    I agree with everything others have said - getting rid of this HIGHLY VALUABLE resource is removing the one place that people with disabilities can feel valued 100% of the time.

    Your reasoning that we can still comment on blogs etc just isn't good enough - thats not all that we use the messageboard for. we also use it to get information, celebrate achievements, recount stories (both disability and non-disability related), share jokes, recieve reassurance, comfort and support...

    I, for 1, being newly-disabled, have found the board to be an invaluable resource that has, and continues to, play a huge part(for all the reasons listed above) in me adapting to my new life.

    There are people of all ages that will be affected by the closure, many of who won't be, and have no desire to be, members of FB and Twitter meaning that the camarardarie and familiarity of the messageboard will be lost as it becomes fragmented.

    Also, there are users who, unfortunately and for whatever reason, are house-bound, for whom the board is their only contact with human friends (because that is what the Ouch community is - a group of friends). Thus, the closure would be removing a lifeline for them.

    So, from my, and others', arguments you must realise that your decision to close the board is both ill-conceived and highly damaging to the lives of many people.

  • Comment number 20.

    Divide and Conquer

    We the disabled community know whats happening, your orders are from above, or jobs lost. I really wish and pray that some people will stand up and be counted against all the disability bashing we getting. It wont stop with just one section of the community, and when it eventually gets to yours no one will be left to protect you either.

  • Comment number 21.

    This decision is not only totally immoral - removing such a valuable and scarce resource from a group of people who are under-represented, but I suspect it is illegal too.

    By doing this, the BBC have joined in with the attacks in disabled people. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 22.

    I have been unable to find any other resource online which has the same breadth and depth of disability information and support, which I use in both my personal and professional life - the Ouch boards may not be perfect but they are a perfect example of all that's good about the BBC. This is public service as it's meant to be - remember that it's paid for by people with disabilities who are BBC licence payers too. Why not live up to the BBC's ideals, instead of this petty bean counting?

  • Comment number 23.

    Most of us do not WANT to be foisted on to social sites, those that do are already there, this seems an excuse for the BBC to save money and face by suggesting we will gain more that way, but Facebook is an huge risk area for disabled and twitter is too stupid for grown ups. The 'self moderation' of social sites would effectively mean an total loss of the forum aspect. Also using the BBC raises issues, and getting info is MORE effective than an rag, tag and bobtail system of social sites, run by the individually biased.. I sincerely hope the DEAF SEE HEAR board is left where it is, as this is an specialist area that cannot be served effectively by social sites or other websites because of an bi-partisan system of who is deaf and who isn't led to an total factionalisation of access, and deaf being grilled and banned if they didn't fit some made up criteria, OUCH allowed everyone a say and offered moderation to protect, specialist sites willj ust ban whoever they don't agree with and kill discussions..

    I read some people want to set up web sites to mirror what happens on OUCH, but the OUCH blog has failed already so why do that ? and, leave it to amateurs ? As the previous commentator stated it was an area of disabilities that made progress and as fee payers too, why should we be dumped on rubbish sites like Facebook ? an total abuser of anything private and home to most of the disabilist perverts who abuse online ?

  • Comment number 24.

    'This decision is not only totally immoral - removing such a valuable and scarce resource from a group of people who are under-represented, but I suspect it is illegal too.'

    I wonder about that too. I join the others who have requested information on the equality impact assessment, if it was done at all.

  • Comment number 25.

    How can you do this???!!! This is the only decent place that we, as the disabled community, can get together, regardless of where in the world we are. Had i not come to the messageboards, i would have had very little knowledge of the 'real' people suffering with 'real' disabilities. We put together so much information for other people, and together, we were really hoping to challenge the governments cowardly treatment of us during their 'cutbacks'. Or is that problem??!! Does it worry the BBC that we now have communication with each other that may cause problems for the government, and BBC may be seen as the 'host'???. We have asked you many times to support 'our' side of the argument, and give a clear, honest perspective of the community while we were being harangued by a prime minister who wants us to be quiet. Are you so afraid of being controversial, that you not only refuse to do that, but also now decide to take away the one place where we can get the truth from each other, just in case we rock the boat??

  • Comment number 26.

    Now that you are part of the beeb's news team, you could perhaps try reading the news once in a while.

  • Comment number 27.

    Okay I don't use this message board, but for a very good reason. I've seen the BBC axe other boards I was very active on, years ago we had a lively and intelligent group on the Antiques board and other "Life Style" boards that all got closed down. It's the same excuse too here, just in different words, as they used then, this whole "there are other services out there... we would only be duplicating..." garbage.

    When they closed the other boards I opened up one of my own on my own server. We now have many hobbies and interests represented, not only Antiques chat but DIY, Gardens, Pets, Health and Well being, Computers and tech etc...

    I can easily add more to it any time.

    It is now part of the site which I use for my own Diversions eMagazine, now called the it is about being able to do things whether you are disabled or not, where we post news and reviews about gadgets, tech, toys, household items, anything we find that may interest people and, if possible, help disabled people too in enjoying life to the fullest. It's about saying "I AM" instead of "i can't..."


  • Comment number 28.

    I can only add my voice to the chorus of dismay and horror which others are expressing. The Ouch message board is a hugely valuable, reliable and safe source of support and information on all aspects of disability which standard social networking does not begin to offer.

    Where is your consultation exercise.

  • Comment number 29.

    The thing is tho Abrii.. its a principle at stake too .. its about not letting people just take things away from us without looking into how it may effect us and without consulting us.. The BBC has duties to disabled people it doesnt have to a group who self identify as antique lovers.. ( lovely as antiques and collectables are ), and they seem now to be choosing to ignore those responsibilities...

    Many of us "can't " do things that non disabled people can..thats just fact .. its not we dont say I am, but if like me you have a significant sight loss all the positivity in the world wont change me from being unable to see to do things that I cant see and thus limit the things I can do.

    Yes there is now a site set up for those ouch members who choose to use it to , if neccessary replace the existing one, ( and ill be there because its important to me to keepin touch with peopleive got to like and respect . but that doesnt
    absolve the BBC of their responsibilities or of blame for not meeting them

  • Comment number 30.

    The Blog announcement of the closure states:

    You regularly tell us that our current service doesn't always deliver the kind of interaction and relationships you want and, indeed, the BBC realises there are now many more effective ways to involve its audience.

    Does anyone have any details of reports made to the BBC or consultation or research by the BBC that can allow the BBC to make this claim?

  • Comment number 31.

    I cannot use Facebook and don't understand what you need to use twitter so you are depreiving disabled people of an important service by shutting the boards. Shame on you. Are you trying to take away the voice disabled people have just like HM Government? I'm disgusted by the continual stifling of freedom of expresion pursued by the BBC, you shut the radio boards, general chat, POV is restricted and NOW YOUR CLOSING OUCH ITS OBVIOUS YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT A CERTAIN PART OF SOCIETY AND I'M OBVIOUSLY NOT PART OF IT

  • Comment number 32.

    @myrtlemaid I understand completely but I also have no faith in the BBC to listen to the complaints. They've closed all other forums, except I think they still have the POV and Archers boards iirc, with the same line over and over.

    There are other things out there they keep saying.

    I agree that not one of them provides the same type of service as the BBC Ouch community does, it's obvious from all the replies here that it is much loved and treasured. I would love to see the BBC for once reverse a bad decision but I highly doubt they will.

    They seem to think they are free to do as they will, although you are not free to not pay that TV license fee (if you were I bet they'd watch a little more carefully what they did). I would suggest not only writing your local MP, and telephoning their local office or showing up at a local surgery to physically present your grievance, but also CC the minister for disability and any other MP who is disabled themselves (I know I've seen one or two in wheel chairs in the House).

    They may still have the petition site as well... Oh yes, they do have this I think:

    As for "I Am" it is not to say there are things we cannot do, I am in a wheel chair and have had enough of the abuse of those who think they are better than me because of it.

    Rather it is about trying to focus on what I can do, and not what I can't.

    The abuse I've gone through even on buses just trying to get out of this wee village some days is despicable. It's gotten me to the point where I have been accepted to the local university to do the LAWLLB and I will be specialising in Disability and Discrimination law.

    I knew a man, in the '70s, who was totally blind and as you probably know there was no such thing as voice recognition on personal computers as there is today. He still wrote the most amazing poetry though, forming the first line, repeating it, then the second, repeating the two, and so on. He'd sit at home talking to himself and forming his poems until his daughter-in-law came home and would write these out for him.

    He was a hero of mine back then.

  • Comment number 33.

    No! Please don't take it away. There's nothing else to replace it. We'd be lost in the chaos of twitter and facebook.

    I know it's a basic website and the inability to communicate privately has been bemoaned, but this doesn't mean we want it removed, but improved. It's like telling us that since our wheelchair doesn't fit we don't need it. Rubbish!

  • Comment number 34.

    Please don't take away my safe haven.

    There is no other message board where we can discuss wide-ranging important disability issues and receive support, that support freely given can avoid breakdowns when life events overwhelm us and calls upon the NHS or Social Services.

    As a basically housebound wheelie I will be left isolated.

    Please rethink the closure of the Ouch board

  • Comment number 35.

    Also I dont want to be "out there" with loads of people who dont understand disability.

    If it hadn't missed your attention BBC, but disabled people are the scourge of society, the single most hated group of people at the moment.
    And you think its OK to throw us to the lions like this?

    If Facebutt and Witter were useful sites for disabled people they would have left Ouch long ago.

    And if you want proof that your Blogs wont be read or interacted with, have a look at previous attempts to "engage" with us via the message boards - the only person who has ever talked to us, and engaged with us, was a techie.
    The team are, across the board, unpolitical, unaware, and living in an ivory tower.
    Their writings are singularly about physical or sensory issues, as they seem to never be able to accept illness, crippling conditions or mental health as disabilities.

    So the alternatives you offer are not adequate.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm gobsmacked by this decision. I occasionally look in on the Ouch boards and they appear to be a very supportive place and certainly more than just a messageboard.

    Why the BBC has decided to close Ouch and yet keep other boards, is beyond me. I frequent the Points of View and The Bull messageboards and would rather see them go, than the much-needed and useful Ouch boards.

    Disgraceful decision BBC.

  • Comment number 37.

    Facebook and Twitter?

    Have any messageboarders ever asked for this?

    The BBC have treated many enthusiastic and passionate, witty and wonderful, posters truly truly badly. But this is the worst closure yet.

    I've read the comments above. Many of them are very moving and heartfelt.

    Whoever made this decision is cold-hearted and ignorant.

  • Comment number 38.

    What a poor show BBC, this community can never be maintained on FB or Twitter.

    I hope this decision can be reversed, for the sake of a hard-pressed minority group, who incidentally are licence fee payers.


  • Comment number 39.

    Not owning a TV any more, I stopped paying my license a year ago. This decision is one more nail in the coffin for the BBC as the PUBLIC SERVICE broadcaster it was set up to be. I wish I could say I was surprised.

  • Comment number 40.

    It is the usual thing - wait until something is successful and then shut it down. OK if you are shutting every discussion group down - but it seems that you are not. Those that discuss BBC programmes are to stay, even though those programmes are fictional.

    Ouch messageboards is a life-saver for me - literally - is the only bit I read, with an occasional dip into the more humorous blogs. We do not discuss programmes, we discuss life. And I suppose that is our downfall.

    We who are stuck at home a great deal of the time have made Ouch our major / only social outlet. And now you whip the carpet from under our feet. Still, I suppose that you will come back and recommend the Samaritans again.

    I would like to see the documents relating to this decision please. Which disability groups and individuals have been involved in the discussions before this decision was made, what arguments were put forward by the BBC management that were so conclusive that there was no need to involve any of the users of this service, and that sort of thing. Were the Equalities Commission involved, or the Equalities people within the BBC organisation, or any Parliamentary Equalities Committee?

    twitter - don't you need a special mobile phone for that? Facebook - the writing is too small and the pages are completely cluttered with other stuff. I can be anonymous on Ouch.

    Thank you for reading this.

  • Comment number 41.

    Almost speechless, I don't believe it.

    Turning to the Ouch message boards has become part of my daily routine since becoming disabled 18 months ago. I have read them during my depressive days, I have read them when I need to find out information from fellow Ouch users and I have turned to Ouch in my battle with insomnia in the early hours of the morning.

    Facebook and Twitter are a completely different style of social networking which wouldn't cater for the sensitive, heartfelt posts found on Ouch.

    Please keep Ouch Message Board.

  • Comment number 42.

    Don't you think we've had enough taken from us? I don't often post on the boards but I read them every day and they have been a great help to me.

  • Comment number 43.

    bbc ouch, what are you playing at ? orders from tory central it seems, divide and conquer tactics.
    leave the message board as it was. you are not microsoft. you do not need to change this piece of software. IT WORKS.
    us disabled are easy targets, we know that much. stop with the pretend PR guff and be a little bit human.

  • Comment number 44.

    'I frequent the Points of View and The Bull messageboards and would rather see them go, than the much-needed and useful Ouch boards.'

    Same here Smilie. POV is a car wreck. The Bull is just.....unjustified when you consider THIS closure. Other areas of that board are extremely underutilized. The moderation costs on both POV and ML I'm sure have been spiraling lately. Cut these boards, keep Ouch. This is a community that is WORTH something. Otherwise? Absolute shame on the BBC if they go ahead with this.

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm staggered. What on earth do you think you are doing, BBC? This board has been a wonderful source of support for me, but not just support, there's been fun, laughter, debate, information in incredible depth.
    I do use FB and I do have a Twitter account - there is absolutely no way they could replace these boards. I watch very little TV, but don't mind my licence fee being used to support Ouch.
    There is nothing else like Ouch on the Web that is so readily accessible to all. Please do reconsider this cruel decision.

  • Comment number 46.

    I can't say I'm surprised. When they announced a few months ago that they were axing some of the meddage boards I thought Ouch would be a target. However, I am disgusted that my prediction has come true and want to add my voice to the other comments. If people wanted to use FB and Twitter then they already would. I don't use the FB page because I don't want people I know to be able to trace my comments on there. I like the anonymity of OUch.

    The way to respond to critism isn't to close down but to improve the existing service.

    Shocking and disgusting!

  • Comment number 47.

    The only times anyone has ever complained the boards don't offer us the "kind of interaction we want" is when the are TOO restrictive and randomly and inconsistently moderated (like when you get an email 18 months after you posted reterospectively applying a brand new rule and issuing you with a warning that you breached said rule without benefit of time machine or crystal ball). So clearly what we were all asking for was MORE RESTRICTION? Not so much! If I can't breathe I don't want you to put a pillow over my face, I want you to open a window.

  • Comment number 48.

    Utterly stunned by this news.

    As Peter and Hoss have already pointed out, the Beeb are subject to the Disability Equality Duty/Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act and are required by law to undertake consultation on moves of this kind in order to produce a Disability Impact Assessment. So let's see it, Beeb.

  • Comment number 49.

    Oh yeah, another thing: Maybe you got information from the readership survey that Ouch didn't seem to be meeting people's needs. News Flash: This tends to be filled in almost exclusively by new users. Why? Becasue it comes from entering Ouch via various homepages. Those of us who have direct links, have Ouch on auto-open on our computers every day, those of us who can recite the full and complete web address from memory, we don't go there. We don't need to, we go direct to our beloved Ouch forums. The survey doesn't pop up to us, so if the information is from your survey it will be information ONLY from people who are not the main audience. What justification is there for letting others who are unaffected vote on our behalf? Perhaps you'd like me to place your vote at the next election? Perhaps you'd like the garner the opinions exclusively of white people on race relations issues? I'll add another to my bucket of complaints, the dropdown "Bias".

  • Comment number 50.

    The BBC are subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act, 2010, any change in services affecting a community of disabled people must be preceded by a consultation process with members of that community and the publication of an Equality Impact Assessment. The stunned shock of the regular board members on hearing this news makes it starkly apparent that neither of these have happened. The requirements of the law have been ignored, does the BBC really have that much contempt for the Equality Act?

  • Comment number 51.

    I am absolutely horrified. I'm only getting out of the house once or twice a week and OUCH! is basically my social life. I don't meet many able-bodied people socially, let alone other people with disabilities and OUCH! is my community. Being hosted by the BBC and moderated means it's kept as a 'safe' space online where I can engaged with people from a variety of backgrounds and health issues. I can't be the only one this is true for - surely it's continuance can be argued purely as part of the BBC's public service obligations? The columnists and podcast are great but that's providing content AT people with disabilities, whereas the message board is participatory WITH people with disabilities. Surely it must be a cheaper alternative to professional content as well?

    For me the message board **IS** OUCH!, the rest of the content is a secondary bonus. It's not "moving" to News, it's being eviscerated.

  • Comment number 52.

    Shame on you BBC.

  • Comment number 53.

    Less than a month's notice, too. There may be people who read &/or post irregularly or are currently unwell; they will come back in a few weeks to find the messageboards gone and no way to find the community built up over years.
    I am another who doesn't believe that FB could ever be "home" to a community like this and Twitter can't be used as an information exchange and neither feels nearly as safe as a site hosted by a publicly-owned UK organisation like the BBC...
    I read these boards for years before officially "joining" and am not on any other messageboards anywhere - some posters feel like real friends though we have never met (or even directly posted to each other in many cases), others less so; that's rather like a small town outside cyberspace, we aren't all alike and that's another one of the good things about it.
    I identify myself as a disabled person largely due to reading stuff on here, have got enormous amounts of information & support, read things that made me laugh, met some ouchers in the real world - and probably stacks of things I can't think of just now.
    Oh, well done Beeb, you made me cry.
    I think the decision to close these boards is awful.

  • Comment number 54.

    I believe that this quote from Scapegoat: Why Were Failing Disabled People Katharine Quarmby, needs to be considered by the BBC.

    "Page 200

    These five physical locations for violence - public transport, the streets, neighbourhood crime, crimes inside the home and institutions - are joined by an emerging virtual one: harassment and bullying on the Internet.

    When I was drawing up recommendations for 'getting away with murder', I talked to police officers and politicians about whether the law on incitement - particularly relating to inciting hatred using the Internet - should be broadened to include crimes against disabled people. At this time I was unable to find evidence that the Internet is being used routinely to mock, taunt, bully or harassed disabled children and adults or to incite others to similar acts or to physical violence.

    This isn't true any more. Three years on, there is increasing evidence that the Internet (and, to a lesser extent, television) is being used as a very modern freakshow where disabled people can be mocked, as well as being a place where disabled children are being bullied and disabled people harassed with virtual impunity. As in the past, when disabled men and women were exploited for the amusement of society, they are now being used as the unwilling stars of virtual reality shows, then transmitted to millions without any regulation. Disabled people who themselves use chat rooms, Facebook and other social networks are often targeted for the amusement of others.

    In November 2010 I came across a website, based in the US, on which anonymous users were encouraged to add to a so-called quote "torture thread" about disabled people. The Webmaster asked for "stories are you maltreated, bullied or tortured your retarded friends, classmates, children". Contributors came back with the counts of theft, assaults, putting faeces in milk for a schoolmate and throwing rocks at disabled people. Some contributors boasted of serially raping other classmates with learning difficulties. The police are now investigating this site, as well of another, which had encouraged attacks on deaf people.

    Scapegoat: Why Were Failing Disabled People Katharine Quarmby, Potrobello Books 2011"

    Ouch message boards have for some time been a haven and safe place fro disabled people to avoid the abuse and harassment that Politicians, Academics, Police and society in general have refused to acknowledge existing.

    The BBC have conspicuously failed to cover such matters by Programming, Investigative Journalism or Via programming that allows audience participation such as radio call in shows.

    There has been no consultation by the BBC concerning the views expressed that Ouch Message Board users would prefer to use Social networking sites, micro blogging sites such as twitter, and blogging in general - especially concerning the security risks and the risk of Harassment, Abuse, Hate Crime and being the Object of incitement to such illegal activities.

    The BBC's decision is out of step with the reality of disabled people, and would indicate that in failing to Consult Disabled People on this matter the BBC have made a gross error.

  • Comment number 55.

    The EHRC have published "a note for decision makers" on Public Sector Equality Duties and financial decisions - a note for decision makers:

    Concerning the closure of the Ouch Message Boards:

    Is the purpose of the policy change/decision clearly set out?

    The BBC Need to provide evidence of this.

    Have those affected by the policy/decision been involved?

    The BBC Need to provide substantive evidence to support any claim that people affected have been aware of the policy/decision and been allowed and where necessary empowered to express their opinions - upto and including challenging assumptions, presumptions and institutional bias and error.

    Have potential positive and negative impacts been identified?

    The BBC need to prove that they have rationally considered impact, both negative and positive, and where necessary show that such assessments have been free from assumptions, presumptions and institutional bias and error.

    Are there plans to alleviate any negative impact?

    It would appear that the references to Twitter, Social networking sites and Blogging have been assessed as the BBC's preferred option for "Alleviation Of Negative Impact". The BBC will have to show that using such alternate services does alleviate negative impact and that also there is no Negative impact to service users in changing to these services.

    Are there plans to monitor the actual impact of the proposal?

    The BBC will have to show that they have such a Monitoring process in place and that any monitoring tool or procedure is fit for purpose.

    What happens if you don’t EIA relevant decisions properly?

    The BBC will have to have this as part of a standard risk assessment, and consider negative impact to the BBC should they failed to meed EIA obligations.

  • Comment number 56.

    The OuchMB closure announcement states:

    "The messageboard will close on Wednesday 6 July. That gives us almost a month to help you find each other again. In the final week, we will see how this process has gone and help out if need be."

    This is highly discriminatory, and indicates that due to lack of consultation and understanding the BBC have made a most serious error.

    It is not just a matter of locating people via other Social Media. For some it will entail replacement of hardware, software and lengthy and costly actions to provide that same access.

    The announcement shows that the BBC have failed to make themselves aware of the impact of the intended action upon OuchMB users.

    The announcement also fails to consider the House Rules of OuchMB which prohibit individuals from publishing personal information, including hyper-links to social media sites that identify them or other ouch members.

    The announcement has clearly been written from the position of ignorance as to how OuchMB members use the service and are prohibited from specific activity as members.

    The BBC Guidance on what is seen as a suitable site for members to link to makes most interesting reading.

    The recommendations that Twitter be used and indicating that OuchMB members link to a personal twitter account would cause multiple breaches of these guidelines, including "Linking risks breaching defamation and/ or contempt of court".

    As Twitter members can be made unwitting parties to the dissemination of information linked to "Super Injunctions" exactly how do the BBC see the "month to help you find each other again" being of any value.

    References to social networking sites being used to continue communication also fall foul of multiple house rules including:

    *Page contains pornography and sexually explicit content
    *Page contains text & images likely to offend most people
    *Links to hate sites (on grounds of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation)
    *Links to depictions of gratuitous violence
    *Page condones or encourages unlawful acts
    *Linking breaches copyright law or encourages others to do so (eg:
    peer-to-peer music sites, illegal downloads of software and games, etc)
    *Linking risks breaching defamation and/ or contempt of court
    *Page describes how to hack or cause other technical disruption to online
    *Page describes how to conduct an unlawful act (e.g. bomb-making, fraud etc)
    *Links to sites requiring registration before any content can be viewed
    *Links to solely for-profit products and services (no editorial content)

    The BBC should consider their own reporting of One household name Social networking site as to security, it's use to carry out harassment and hate crime, illegal content and the incitement to criminal acts.

    How are OuchMB members supposed to link to that web venue ad not fall foul of the OuchMB house rules?

    Due to the way that specific Social media sites operate there is no Guarantee that any person placing a link to such a site will not cause the rules to be broken.

  • Comment number 57.

    How does it feel to know you've betrayed us all, Damon? I was one of those instrumental in helping to save the podcast, and now you've just kicked me in the face.

  • Comment number 58.

    I agree with all my ouchers.. I don,t recall being asked or notified this is the first I heard .
    This site has helped me tremendously with my actual condition,my medication fears. DWP problems and info on how to apply and where to go for benefit info.
    I have learned about other disabilities and how people over come pain and frustration every day.. In one it has made me feel part of a vast community and not out here on my own.
    Are you wanting to move us all onto social networks because the DWP can find us easier here? is that what it is? pardon me for being paranoid.. but every time we find somewhere to have a chat vent our spleen have a laugh or just join together as a unit for our causes we are disbanded as soon as is possible.
    I join my fellow ouchers in asking the BBC NOT to close the site it is of great value to a lot of people please rethink you can see how passionate we are.

  • Comment number 59.

    Just a licence payers, WE pay THEIR wages.

  • Comment number 60.

    Removing the main, and for many ONLY messageboard where people with various disabilities can "meet", be "in contact with" and just plain discuss their many and varied problems and/or difficulties, ask for and receive help, advice, and on many occasion great comfort - with people who understand - been there, still there - done that, still doing that - worn the Tshirt, worn out the Tshirt...

    ...and to suggest that we re-group on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter?

    I first joined Ouch in March/April 2005, messed up registration when changes were made in August/October 2005, and rejoined under my current registration in January 2006, all I can do is say that I am totally disgusted that the BBC is going to remove the Ouch messageboards...

    ...while leaving certain others "because they have so many people posting on them".

    I guess that listeners to a certain Radio 4 programme are FAR more important to the BBC than those of us for whom our daily fight with various physical and mental problems was eased by the Ouch messageboards.

    As a non-user of Facebook/Twitter/etc - farewell to all the lovely friends I made through Ouch over the years.

    To the Ouch Team?

    I am very very disappointed with you all.

  • Comment number 61.

    I would also like to bring to your attention the following BBC news story 9 June 2011 Last updated at 11:41

    "Windsor woman warns over Facebook amputee fetishists

    A Windsor campaigner has warned of the dangers of social networking after being targeted by men who are attracted to amputee women.

    Charlotte Fielder, who was born missing a hand, has been awarded an MBE for her work helping people who are "limb deficient" with the charity Reach.

    After signing up to Facebook, she found her profile image had been copied and posted on a pornographic website.

    Her image was subjected to obscene comments by men attracted to amputees.

    The image used was one of Mrs Fielder fully-clothed.

    She said many women amputees she knew had been contacted by so-called "devotees".

    Mrs Fielder, 47, said she joined Facebook in 2008 and used it to keep in touch with people she helps.

    When speaking to a female athlete from the British Paralympic Team she discovered her image had been used for pornographic purposes. "

    Please explain how this reconciles with the claim:

    "You regularly tell us that our current service doesn't always deliver the kind of interaction and relationships you want..."

    I for one prefer cyber venues such as Ouch Message Boards where you are not subject to such misuse of Image and opened up to voyeurism, ridicule and predation, sexual or otherwise.

    Again I would refer you to my earlier post quoting the work of Katharine Quaramby and the ongoing research and evidence concerning uses of the internet that abuse disabled people and contribute to the negative stereotypes and attitudes that fuel abuse.

  • Comment number 62.

    the SEE HEAR and OUCH facebook links are virtually unused, they are a complete waste of time, so why is the BBC wanting us to go there ? to fill up the dead space ? Not going to happen. It will close altogether. Perhaps that is what Cameron wants...

  • Comment number 63.

    Finaly! Sense prevails! Best news I have read in ages. Well done, BBC for finally taking the decision to close the messageboards, something I have campaigned for a long time since the boards hosted far too many Trolls and spread far too many lies and deceit and was nothing but a battleground for cyber-bullies.

  • Comment number 64.

    I wonder who it was that actually made the decision to close the Ouch boards. It seems to me that they obviosly didn't set foot in the place to see what they're about.

  • Comment number 65.

    What a disgrace on the BBC for killing the only real on-line community where I feel safe to talk openly about the every-day joys and frustrations that come with having a disability.

    Other social networking sites simply don't offer the same breth and depth of knowledge, support, kindness, debate, information and friendship that these message boards offer.

    I love facebook but I'd never dream of posting on there the things that I can post here. I never need to explain or excuse my disability here because for the most part it is understood and when it's not understood it is accepted as valid anyway!

    At a time when I'm feeling so attacked by the general media and general public this really is my only safe haven.

    Shame, shame, shame again BBC!!

  • Comment number 66.

    i think its a total sham that bbc are doing this you presume we ALL have facebook well reality check we dont i will never have an account with that dreaded site but with ouch i feel comfortably to have one we beg you as a community please dont shut it down its the only thing i have as communication with friends and im sure there are hundreds of me out there that agree on this .You will certainly do harm thaN good.SAMBO

  • Comment number 67.

    anyone here who would like to contiues to link with autism related issues there is this place to come to its very good and informative

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    After becoming disabled, being stuck at home 24/7, finding Ouch was like the sun coming out after a long long winter.

    I have been helped so many times by the posters that it gave me hope again.

    Hopefully I have (in a small way) returned this.

    If Ouch disappears what will happen to the people who rely on it now and the people who like me find themselves in a very dark place? Suicide?

    Other posters have said it and I reiterate it.............where was the "Impact Assessment"?

    I would also like to point out that the only comment about interaction was the non-provision of personal messaging, which would have provided a "safe" private interaction.


  • Comment number 71.

    Dear Mark Thompson,

    On the Facebook page for BBC Ouch, under the Info tab's "Company Overview" section, it states that BBC Ouch is:

    "The BBC's disability website and community since June 17, 2002. We've got articles, a vibrant message board, blogs, votes, news headlines, quizzes ... in fact, we've got so much stuff that Facebook probably won't give us enough space to list it all here."

    • If the message board is vibrant by your own admission why are you closing it?

    • If you have "so much stuff that Facebook probably won't give us enough space to list it all" then how do you imagine with Facebook you'll be able to SERVICE it all?

    I find it ironic that precisely at a time when disabled people's financial viability is thrown into turmoil in Britain, our flagship media network should remove their best and clearest means of navigating it.

    Social media sites are self-evidently SOCIAL. They do not have the depth or capacity to be a storehouse of vital information collected over time; for heaven's sake they're not even searchable!!

    With 20% of the UK population having some form of disability and 52% having a stake in disability (by working in the medical profession, as a carer or having a disabled family member) you are alienating a much larger cross-section of your licence fee paying public than you realise.

    I don't need to add my voice to the chorus of "For shame, BBC!!", although I certainly do. Channel 4 is so much more proactive regarding disabled viewers' needs that I'm sure an even better forum can be produced elsewhere with their support.

    Consumers will always vote with their feet. It will be a dark era indeed for the BBC if you force the largest untapped minority in the UK to vote with ITS feet, wheels, sticks, crutches, computers and/or CASH.

    If your business model is as completely outdated as it appears, you're better off without your cut of the "disabled dollar" and we, the public, will happily take our business elsewhere.

  • Comment number 72.

    Please amend my posting to read "TOPIC-searchable".

  • Comment number 73.

    Further to the statement made by Damon Rose "You regularly tell us that our current service doesn't always deliver the kind of interaction and relationships you want... " I wish to bring the following to the attention of the BBC.

    I refer to the Ouch Opinion Article published 28th July 2009 - Dr Tom Shakespeare BA, MPhil and PhD in social sciences.

    The article is titled " Not just a pretty Facebook ".

    It outlines his personal experience of using facebook as a social networking site, and the content he saw concerning hos won disability: achondroplasia.

    "I've always known, and research my team conducted has proven, that people with restricted growth commonly experience staring, name calling and prejudice. But a quick scan of some of the groups on Facebook shows both how common, and how idiotic, this discrimination can be.

    There are more than 500 of these groups which include the word "dwarf" in their title, and a similar number called something like "midget". This includes, but is not limited to, groups like: "I kick midgets", "Dwarfs are for life not just pantomime", "Give blind people dwarfs instead of dogs" and, particularly close to home for me, "Let's ban dwarfs from South Shields beach in summer months". "

    "Clearly, nastiness like this has always happened, and many disabled people have heard the same or worse in their own lives. But Facebook and similar social networking sites provide a forum which bored idiots can fill with prejudice and filth. Perhaps some people are happy just to look the other way or ignore it, but it feels distressing to know this stuff is out there, and it encourages negative attitudes and quite possibly harassment and physical violence against disabled people. "

    "Above all, the existence of these attitudes and these groups makes me suspicious of people who ask to be my friend on Facebook. Most of the strangers who get in touch are no doubt Ouch! readers or people who know my academic work. But perhaps some of the people I approve are just voyeurs, eager to laugh at my picture and point me out to their mates when they return home drunk from the pub. I'd rather run that risk than reject everyone I don't know, but I put strangers on "limited access" settings as a precaution.

    Although the world has improved for disabled people in many ways, this dimension of Facebook is a sad reminder that old attitudes die hard. "

    It is with interest that the concerns expressed some 2 years ago have been again reported by the BBC in the news story "Windsor woman warns over Facebook amputee fetishists"

    Many disabled people have and do receive abuse of the types identified via social networking sites on a daily basis. Such abuse is intrusive, distressing and damaging. It prevents equal usage of such cyber venues in equality with others.

    The use of the internet to commit hate crime and disabalist motivated abuse has been under researched for some time. The reasons for this are many but the main issue is that Disabalist Hate Crime is not seen as a criminal act in it's self.

    The government sponsored web portal to report hate crime, " True Vision" says the following:

    "Illegal Hate Content
    Inciting Hatred

    In England and Wales it can be an offence to stir up hatred on the grounds of:

    Sexual Orientation.

    (There is no similar offence relating to disability or transgender)"

    If the content reported by Dr Shakespeare had been based upon Race, Religion or Sexuality it would have been criminal in nature. Because of inequality in Law disabled people can and often subjected to such activity in Social Networking, and no matter how offensive it is no offence has been committed.

    BBC Ouch is a primary location for people to avoid the conduct that the BBC has itself reported.

    The BBC May think that aberrant and abusive conduct based upon a person's disability is only an issue in Cyber Space. Some have believed that due to "Privilege" they are socially exempt from responsibility.

    I refer the BBC to the BBC News Coverage of the treatment of Paul Maynard MP, on the floor of The House Of Commons -

    "Trevor Phillips 'sickened' by Commons 'mockery' of MP

    Equalities chief Trevor Phillips has told the BBC he felt "physically sick" at reports that a Conservative MP with cerebral palsy was mocked by other MPs.

    Paul Maynard told the Times Labour MPs had pulled faces at him in the Commons, saying he felt they were "taking the mick out of my disability".".

    Some saw the incident as just the "Rough And Tumble" of politics and parliament. If grown men and women of supposed national standing see it appropriate to conduct themselves in this way, one has to wonder why they have not seen it appropriate to legislate against it, and even make it binding upon both the crown and parliament.

    I am glad to report that there have been no such similar incidents on the BBC Ouch message boards, though there has been strong legal and political debate, discussion of hate crime and all with the avoidance of the excesses and abuses that have been identified on Social Networking sites - and even in public office.

  • Comment number 74.

    It would appear that the management who made this decision are disability un-aware. They require education.

    Please let me know if you would like to set up a training day to raise their awareness to the standards now common in most local authority and governmental organisations. I am sure that I, and many other Ouch members, would be happy to organise this, for a small fee.

  • Comment number 75.

    Where's the Equality Impact Assessment?

  • Comment number 76.

    I share other's disappointment in the way this has been handled and the prospects for the future.

    I use Facebook but given the repeated privacy issues they create, I wouldn't post much about disability issues over there.

    How will you ensure that our personal information is not released? How can you continue to provide a service that does NOT require us to publish our real names and locations?

  • Comment number 77.

    Why does every Government body in this country deem it right to treat the disabled as if they are costing too much? The BBC should hang its head in shame for joining in with other Government sponsored disability cuts.
    Shame on you BBC and give us our messageboard back!! .

  • Comment number 78.

    It seems that Disabled People and Ouch Message Board Members have been leading the news.

    The closure of The Ouch Message Boards has even made it onto the BBC, even if it was a BBC Phone In on BBC Radio Kent.

    The question was posed "Have You been Abused Because You're Disabled, And Is This Sort Of Abuse Getting Worse, And Why?

    The reports made from all over the country were very interesting - and the reasons why also made clear.

    The Topics being discussed, but not making it on to the BBC News;

    1 in 3 diabetics afraid to go public - discrimination the issue - report published today 13 June 2011 by diabetes UK. It does not just cover diabetes, a disability, but uncovers how discrimination makes people afraid and how it adversely affects their health. Any interest to the BBC News - there are only 2.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK. Any Comment?

    Today - BBC News report on International Aide - "Countries pledge $4.3bn in funding for child vaccines" and yet on the links to that news story the BBC fail to mention that the The World Health Organisation published a report last week identifying The World's Largest Minority - The Disabled - 1 Billion In total.

    Failures in health care and international aide also contribute to that figure, Preventable diseases cause disability. Maybe there is no-one in the BBC News Room who sees the link or the issue?

    The BBC News have so many opportunities to ensure that Disability Issues are reported and even meet the BBC charter obligations, yet it does not happen!

    BBC Ouch Members make sure that these issues and news stories do get an airing - even if it is just to other Ouch members who then take the news to other disabled people.

    The BBC News is reported to have Track Record for reporting disability related news.

    It seems that they have a Track Record and that is for the number of false starts - which in track records get you disqualified!

    When it comes to Disability it seems that the issue is always in the outside lane and never part of the big picture.

  • Comment number 79.

    Shame on you BBC the press are against us which leads to people in the street are against us the government are against us now the BBC are against us which cave should i crawl into all the hard work people have done to help us get better help has gone How can you discus disability issues if you are not disabled and to tell use to use facebook and twitter which I feel are unsafe is beyond belief Tsk tsk

  • Comment number 80.

    I suggest the money saved is divided between two BBC One tv shows:

    1. Saints & Sinners, so we can revel in more stories of how 3 out of 4 disabled folk are (apparently) liars and cheats

    2. Panorama, so we can then be shocked when the people you have helped brand as worthless are tortured by care home thugs

  • Comment number 81.

    Do you, or your superiors, have a response, Damon?

  • Comment number 82.

    Damon (if I may), I have just drafted a letter to my MP, to be emailed tomorrow morning. I have asked Kizzy to check it over, then I might post it on the boards to see what people think.
    You are welcome to contact me privately of course; general consensus is that you will not. I urge you and the BBC to reconsider your position. That is all for now.

  • Comment number 83.

    Dear Mr Rose

    You seem to have broken cover and made a few comments - very poorly received - over on the Ouch Message Boards.

    When can the readers here expect responses and equality of Patronage?

  • Comment number 84.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 85.

    Hey I realize it is 2011, there is always new and ever changing technologies coming around that allow users to better interact with eachother on websites or different media. But It seems that people really love this site, I really enjoy it myself. Why cant we just keep the boards up and also use social media. Just seems like you guys are selling yourselves and us a bit short. I work as a cna currently, and a lot of my venting is done on this little ol website. Just do what you guys can. Thanks!
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]


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