Skip to main content

Digital Broadcasting: Sight Impaired

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many blind and partially-sighted people are able to use teletext without the assistance of others; whether he estimates this number will change following the digital switchover; and if he will make a statement. (156191)

We have not made any estimation of the number of blind and partially sighted people who are able to use Teletext without the assistance of others and it would be difficult to do so.

I recognise the impact that switching to digital television may have on those who rely on equipment that translates analogue written Teletext into audible speech as this piece of equipment will not work with digital text services. This should be balanced against the wider benefit that switchover brings of the provision of audio description services for blind and partially sighted people on terrestrial television.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representation he has received from Portset on digital switchover and assistance for blind people to access teletext services. (156193)

I have received no representations from Portset, which manufactures Talking Teletext equipment that translates written teletext into audible speech.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the impact of the digital switchover on blind and partially-sighted persons. (156194)

A regulatory impact assessment was published in September 2005 setting out a detailed assessment of the impact of digital switchover on consumers, particularly elderly people and those with a disability. We have taken steps to address the disadvantages that these groups face as a result of switchover, primarily through the digital switchover help scheme. The scheme includes all households where one person is registered blind or is registered partially sighted. Those who are not registered, but are 75 years or over will also be eligible for help.

We will continue to monitor and review the Government’s policy on switchover for equality impact, including ongoing consultation with the RNIB and other organisations representing blind and partially sighted people, and are in the process of undertaking a full equalities impact assessment.