Radio broadcaster and journalist
Visual impairment : Born blind
Peter White is an exceptional person. Blind since birth, he is a successful journalist with B.B.C. and a radio presenter with BBC Radio Solent. His determination earned him his job with BBC radio when the station was launched in 1971. He was then just 24 and had no prior experience.
Peter is perhaps best known as the presenter of 'In Touch', a programme on BBC Radio 4 for visually impaired listeners. His concern towards people with disabilities and disability related issues led him to produce and edit 'Same Difference', a programme on disability for Channel 4 of British T.V. between 1987 and 1989.
Later, Peter went on to become the producer and presenter of 'Link', a Central Television's magazine for disabled people from 1989 to 1991. Peter did not stop there: he has much more to his credit. Since 1995 he has been BBC's Disability Affairs Correspondent. He was the first totally blind person to produce reports for television news. He has also, over the past decade, written four series of autobiographical talks for BBC Radio 4, along with the much-acclaimed series 'No Triumph, No Tragedy'. Peter has presented several other Radio 4 programmes including 'Pick of The Week', 'You and Yours' and a series of 15-minute features called 'Blind Man On The Rampage'. In 1993 he also devised and produced the quiz series 'It's Your Round'.
Peter is very passionate about hosting the programme 'In Touch'. He says, since this programme is targeted at visually impaired listeners, it is vital to speak to them believably. The only way to do that, he feels, is by talking from personal experience. He says his job is to bring disability into the mainstream where it is possible to explain a lot of issues to people.
As a child Peter was as confident as he is today. The credit for this goes to his parents. They were undeterred by the fact that both their boys were born virtually blind. The children were allowed to play in the courtyard of their home unsupervised; a rare gift of freedom for disabled children. Young Peter learnt to play in the street with the neighbourhood children.
His bullish nature and confidence proved vital when he was sent to a school for the blind in Bristol. He was only five years old then. Though he hated it, two things kept him going. First, he loved sports. He could play basketball and cricket specially adapted for blind people. Second, he learnt to read Braille. Peter was hungry to read more every day. This earned him a place at Worcester College, a grammar school for blind and partially sighted children.
Peter enjoyed his new school. He overcame many hurdles and accepted challenges. He felt it was the right school for him - very academic and cerebral. The place was full of children with interesting ideas. Peter's straight talking and the confidence to speak for himself played an important role in his grooming.
He expresses more of what he thinks in his autobiography 'See It My Way'. Peter has a very positive attitude towards his own blindness, "I am blind, what's your problem?" He says it does not matter if he stumbles over the poles in the car park. Everyone makes mistakes. Even people with sight stumble.
Peter enjoys his daily journey of 140 kilometres to work. He travels by train and has a tremendous sense of direction. It is hard to convince people, Peter says, that the noises, keening ticket machines, bleeping train doors and echoing corridors are what make train travel so user-friendly for visually impaired persons. It is almost as if it was designed for the purpose.
Peter is a very versatile and a hard working person who is happy with life. Peter recalls the evening when he met Jo at a pub while he was playing piano. It was so refreshing he said. Jo who was a nurse by profession became good friends with Peter. She was indifferent to his blindness. In fact Jo felt, if Peter could manage his life so well before they met, there was no reason for things to change now. But yes, one thing did change. They got married.
Peter and Jo now live a happy married life with four grown up children. All of whom have perfect sight.