Occupation: Radio Broadcaster, Journalist and DJ
Challenges overcome: Visual Impairment
Successes, Achievements & Awards:
Peter White was born in Winchester in 1974 and has been blind since birth along with his older brother and he contributed his own capacity for success largely to the fact that his independent and capable blind elder brother had set the bar very high, as had the confidence that his parents had in both their sons.
Peter White attended New College Worcester, which was then known as the Worcester College for the Blind. Peter White was a regular presenter on BBC Radio Solent from the station’s launch in 1971 until November 2006, when he was one of several long-serving and well-respected presenters who were sacked in an attempt to improve listener figures. Peter White has been the BBC’s Disability Affairs Correspondent since 1995. He was the first totally blind person to produce reports for television news. He currently presents along with other presenters and guests You and Yours and since 1974 he also presents In Touch a programme for blind and partially sighted people. Both programmes are Radio 4 Broadcasts. Peter White also regularly contributes to other science news and educational programmes to talk about disabilities. He was the presenter of Channel 4’s Same Difference (1987–1989) and Central Television’s Link (1989–1991). He was part of the reporting team for BBC News at the 2008 Beijing games. A column by Peter White for The Guardian ‘G2′ magazine which appeared on 8 September 2006 apparently gained many positive responses.
Over the last decade he has written four series of autobiographical talks for Radio 4, as well as the acclaimed series No Triumph, No Tragedy. Other Radio 4 programmes Peter has presented include Pick of the Week and a series of 15 minute features called Blind Man on the Rampage. In l993 Peter devised and presented the pub quiz series It’s Your Round. Peter is married with four children. In 1999 he published his autobiography called, My Way.
On 13 March 2009 Peter White participated in Radio 4’s Stand Up With The Stars, a competition for Red Nose Day 2009 where well-known, serious presenters from Radio 4 attempted to make and deliver a stand-up comedy routine, mentored by other well-known comedy presenters on Radio 4. He went on to win after a vote from Radio 4 listeners. Much of his routine focused on his blindness and others’ perceptions of blind people.
In February 2011, Peter White took part in a 100 km trek across the Kaisut Desert in North Kenya for Comic Relief to raise awareness of individuals in Africa losing their sight to diseases like glaucoma. However, he failed to complete the challenge, having to pull out due to painful blisters.
Much of Peter’s humour and wealth of anecdotes stems from his experiences as a totally blind man, competing successfully in the very cut-and-thrust field of broadcasting. During his career Peter has been travelling around the world alone, with only his trusty white cane to help him (one of his funniest routines deals with the many reasons why he doesn’t have a guide dog). Peter has totally mastered the art of taking the cloying sympathy out of disability, so that his stories take a very robust view of it. Many of them deal with some of the dafter things the public do when confronted with disability, but an equal number are told against himself, and deal with what can go wrong when, as Peter puts it, “You try to play the blind card at the wrong time, to the wrong people”. Much of Peter’s material is gleaned from broadcasting and his contacts with the great, the good, and the not-so-good.
In 2014 Peter White presented Disability: A New History which uncovers the untold story of disability and discusses how disabilities were thought about, acknowledged, lived with, discussed, and recorded (or not acknowledged or recorded) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This Series is still available on BBC I Player.
During his career Peter White has interviewed many famous people including Weter White’s initial impression that working in a disability-related area represented ‘failure’ changed as disability politics developed, and he made it clear that, although he had risen to be the BBC’s Disability Affairs editor, it was in some ways now much harder than it had been for disabled people to get ‘a foot in the door’ at the BBC. For example, there is a paucity of dedicated recruitment programmes, and workshops are not really an adequate substitute.
Peter White’s confidence was something that, Tanvir Bush, said she had found encouraging when, as a person not long diagnosed with a progressive visual impairment, she saw White striding confidently down a busy London street, and not apologising for being there, as Bush often felt obliged to do.
Awards and achievements
1988 Awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
1999 Published an autobiography, See It My Way.
2001 Awarded Sony speech Broadcaster of the Year 2001
2002 Awarded Viv Bradford Rose Bowl by Warwickshire Association for the Blind
Visual impairment (or vision impairment) is a decreased ability to see to a degree that causes problems not fixable by usual means, such as glasses or medication. Eye disorders which can lead to visual impairments can include retinal degeneration, albinism, cataracts, glaucoma, muscular problems that result in visual disturbances, corneal disorders, diabetic retinopathy, congenital disorders, and infection. Visual impairment can also be caused by brain and nerve disorders, in which case it is usually termed cortical visual impairment.
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Peter White (broadcaster). (2015, May 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 16:25, May 13, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Peter_White_(broadcaster)&oldid=660440877