As the switchover to digital TV comes to an end, the Help Scheme set up to assist those who required extra advice or assistance has been hailed a success.
The Switchover Help Scheme has been very important in ensuring blind and partially sighted people can continue to use and enjoy TV. It has underlined the need to ensure that TV remains accessible in the future, in line with the continuing developments in new technology and on demand services.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has been involved in the switchover process since 2004 when work first started to campaign for assistance to be provided to support disabled people and older consumers. Without RNIB’s involvement the dedicated Help Scheme would not have been established.
RNIB’s ongoing work with the scheme continued across all 16 TV regions and this work has led to around 40,000 people with sight loss requesting assistance.
Leen Petré, Principal Manager of the Media and Culture Department in RNIB, said: “The switchover to digital TV has been years in the planning and execution, and the project is now finally complete.
“RNIB worked closely with partners to ensure blind and partially sighted people could get help from the scheme during the transition from analogue to digital.
“Providing fully accessible easy to use equipment, and reaching so many people who needed one to one assistance to get started with digital TV, is a great achievement and we hope that the same considerations will be taken into account if there is ever a switchover to digital radio.”
As part of the work, the Switchover Help Scheme worked with consumer and disability experts, manufacturers and broadcasters to supply TV digital equipment that was accessible. Blind and partially sighted customers were able to choose a Smart Talk Freeview box which featured speaking menus and programme information, and figures indicate that 12,000 people received these boxes.
Overall, the general population take-up of the Help Scheme means that a total of 1.35 million people across theUKhave accessed the scheme.
The Digital TV switchover final report is available from www.digitaluk.co.uk
Everyday around 100 people in the UKstart to lose their sight. There are around 2 million people in the UKwith sight problems. RNIB is the leading charity working in the UKoffering practical support, advice and information for anyone with sight difficulties. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helplineon 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk