Galloway’s is asking for your support in ensuring a vital BBC text service continues, following its success in preventing the Red Button from being switched off at the end of last month.
Galloway’s joined forces with more than 170 other organisations led by the National Federation of the Blind UK (NFBUK) and British Deaf Society in signing a petition for the BBC Red Button text service to be saved from being shut down.
Backed by MP Damian Collins, chairman for culture, media and sport select committee, the campaigners argued it would leave many people with sight loss or hearing difficulties feeling isolated.
Following the petition, which was presented to 10 Downing Street, the director general of the BBC Lord Tony Hall agreed to suspend the switch-off.
Galloway’s now wants to build up a solid case for why the service is needed, to ensure it remains whilst further discussions continue.
The Red Button enables headlines, football scores, weather and travel news to be read more clearly on TV sets. It uses large text and is static so a person can read it in their own time, making it a vital service for people with visual impairments.
Stuart Clayton, chief executive of Galloway’s, which has sites in Penwortham, Chorley, Morecambe and Southport, said: “More than two million people are estimated to be living with sight loss in the UK today. These people heavily rely on text services such as the BBC Red Button and without it, they would be more isolated.
“We are in full support of this campaign. It is a vital service for our members at Galloway’s who have some residual sight, as they find the static format clearer and easier to read in their own time.
“We are thrilled the BBC has listened to our concerns but we need to ensure the service remains for good.
“We now want to hear from anyone with a visual impairment who uses the Red Button to share their reasons why the service is a lifeline to them and should not be discontinued.
“We also want to challenge the BBC to make the Red Button even more accessible, with a speech and audio option.”
Sarah Gayton, shared space co-ordinator from the NFBUK, said: “The NFBUK was extremely worried the continuity of service would leave many disabled and elderly people across the UK isolated and disconnected from society. It is clear this service is a vital lifeline for people who need to consume news and information in a static form and not using a computer or a small smartphone device. Not everyone has access to the internet. This is a huge victory for the petitioners and the people they represent and it is very clear that this service should never be switched off.”
In a letter to Damian Collins MP, Lord Hall said: "People have expressed their concern that the closure of Red Button text service could negatively affect elderly people and people with disabilities.
"These are issues I feel deserve to be explored in more depth... so we have decided to suspend its closure pending further work in that area."
Lord Hall said the service would continue "as close as possible to its current state for the time being.”
Last year a spokesman for the BBC said the decision to close the service had not been taken lightly and that the resources that maintained it would go towards "even better internet-based services."
If anyone has a personal story of why they rely, use and love the BBC Red Button text service, call 01772 744148, email Natalie.Walker@galloways.org.uk or post to Galloway’s, Howick House, Howick Park Avenue, Penwortham, PR1 OLS. This will then be put forward to the BBC and government, as part of the charity’s case to continue the service.
Galloway’s would also encourage people to contact their MP to explain how important this service is to them and that it must never be switched off.