Glasgow-based RNIB Connect Radio celebrating twenty years of broadcasting
Blind and partially sighted presenters taking on a series of impressive challenges to bust the myths around what people with sight loss can do.
The award-winning station in Partick was established by sight loss charity RNIB to provide news, information and entertainment to blind and partially sighted people across the country. Its presenters, all of whom have sight loss themselves, will be taking lessons from other blind and partially sighted professionals to learn something new while aiming to bust myths around what people think blind and partially sighted people can and can’t do.
The first challenge of the series was a lesson in Wing Chun, which took place Tuesday July 11 in Glasgow’s West End. Wing Chun Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art, which has become popular in recent years as it is the martial art that Bruce Lee studied as a teenager before becoming better known for karate.
RNIB Connect Radio’s Content Producer Allan Russell, said: “Wing Chun actually lends itself to being better for blind and partially sighted people to pick up, than those with sight.
“This’s because it’s very much toe to toe and relies on sensitivity of touch and sighted participants actually have to train themselves not to use their sight as it slows them down.”
RNIB Connect Radio, formerly known as Insight Radio, was launched in 2003 and now reaches 80,000 regular listeners across the UK. It also has satellite studios in London and Cardiff.
Kris Wallace, RNIB Connect Radio’s Senior Content Manager, commented: "The beauty of radio is that’s it’s a very warm medium and invites people to be part of the conversation, so people with sight loss can come together through the radio station to share their experiences, tips, challenges and aspirations.”
Wing Chun Instructor Martin Gibbons, said: “There’s several reasons why Wing Chun is more suited for people who are blind or partially sighted. It primarily uses sensitivity, so as soon as your arm or hand makes contact with your opponent, you rely upon sensitivity, not eyesight. The movements are generally compact and designed to work at close range.
“You can begin learning at any age and I mostly teach adult beginners. Although you’ll improve your fitness and health when practising Wing Chun, you don’t need to be fit to fully participate.
Having trained several people with sight loss over the years, I believe that a blind or partially sighted person can compete on a level playing field with a sighted individual. In my experience, my blind and partially sighted students actually pick it up quicker and with fewer bad habits.”
This is the first of several events that RNIB Connect Radio have organised to celebrate their 20th anniversary, with lessons in pursuits such as singing, skiing and wrestling still to come.
* RNIB Connect Radio can be heard on 101 FM in the Glasgow area, and elsewhere on Freeview 730 and online on the RNIB website.
About RNIB Connect Radio
RNIB Connect Radio is Europe’s first radio station for blind and partially sighted listeners. We serve the UK and broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week on Freeview channel 730, online at rnib.org.uk/connect-radio and on 101 FM in the Glasgow area. We are also available via smart devices including apps like Radioplayer or TuneIn or “Alexa, play RNIB Connect Radio”.
RNIB Connect Radio provides an important service to a community which can be hard to reach, potentially isolated and is traditionally under-serviced with information and opportunities. The radio station also has responsibilities to our secondary audience of family, friends, employers and professionals who work in the sight loss sector and associated areas. All the station’s on-air presenters are either blind or visually impaired.
The main studios are based in Glasgow, but we have satellite studios in Cardiff and London which contribute to our output. We intend for our content to be relevant for everyone in the blind and partially sighted community in the UK. However, we know we also reach many listeners in the US, Canada, Europe and beyond.
For further information, please contact Rory Paterson at RNIB Scotland on [email protected].