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Radio presenter in tune with the blind

PUBLISHED: 15:18 17 January 2013

Pictures of Samantha Cook

Pictures of Samantha Cook

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A radio show for the blind is launching at North West Kent College's Miskin Radio station. Anna Dubuis finds out more…

Samantha Cook isn’t registered blind but having no sight in her left eye means she has a more acute understanding of what others have to cope with.

“Even just being blind in one eye I still walk into things. Just pouring a cup of tea is problematic as I have no depth of field. I often walk into doors because I don’t see them,” says the 42-year-old, who was born with a detached retina that no operation could fix.

She is launching a local radio show for blind and visually impaired people and those who live and work with them.

Called One in 30, the name refers to the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s statistic that one person in 30 in the UK has a sight problem. This amounts to two million – 360,000 of which are registered blind or partially sighted.

In Kent, 3,740 people were registered blind or partially sighted in 2011, according to the NHS, 64 per cent of which were aged 75 or over.

The show will be broadcast on Miskin Radio, North West Kent College’s home-grown station, on every fourth Sunday of the month at 4pm starting on January 27.

Regular features will include talking book reviews and a what’s on guide listing audio-described cinema screenings and theatre in the area.

It will also test out technology that can help make daily routines a little simpler, and health experts will be discussing eye conditions such as diabetic sight loss, glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts.

One in 30 will follow on from the success of a similar show that Samantha used to work on – Cane but Able – which was produced by former BBC journalist Tony Shearman and went on to win a Sony Radio Academy Award in 2000.

“I worked on Cane but Able in the late 80s and early 90s. Such a thing had never been done before at a local level as there had only been a national programme – the BBC’s In Touch show. Tony came up with the idea and I jumped at the chance. We were very well received and that’s how it started,” explains Samantha.

When the show ended, Samantha went off to work on other radio and television broadcasting projects but now she is returning to the issue that she is passionate about.

In the first One in 30, she and fellow presenter Tracy Allen along with reporter Claire Bird went to Charlton Athletic and Millwall FC to sample their commentary service for blind supporters.

“At a football match all blind people will hear is crowd noises but now visually-impaired supporters are given a headset with a receiver to listen to a dedicated commentary service.”

The team has also met Moorfields Eye Hospital to discover its groundbreaking stem cell research and learned about the specialist children’s hospital located there.

Samantha wants to give people an insight into what is happening in their world, to offer support that she would have appreciated herself.

“When I was a child, going into hospital where there were adults wearing white coats, it was a scary experience. Now people who have visually impaired children cannot feel so nervous about taking their child for treatment as it is a child-friendly environment.

“We want to cover all the trials and tribulations people face.”

nYou can listen to Miskin Radio online at www.miskinradio.co.uk, or via the Tunein app.

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