Lets be honest it cant have been a great week to be an employee at the BBC. Closing radio stations, public outcry and hidden in the press the announcement that the web team would be cut.
Now im not going to argue the merits or otherwise of the need to reduce their output, I happen to listen to 6Music and will be bitterly disappointed if it goes. But what really worries me is the reduction in the web team. Over the past five years, the BBC have been at the forefront of the digital inclusion movement within the UK. iPlayer BBC many the opportunity to access their favourite TV on demand on a computer as and when they were able to access it. But more than that, the BBC committed to designing a website to accessibility standards when many others were hoping the issue would go away. They commissioned, maintained and recently updated the "My Web, My Way" information resource that is now becoming an intrinsic part of other organisations accessibility portfolio. Under the guidance of Jonathan Hassell and his team, the BBC grappelled with some difficult and challenging issues, most recently the need to produce content suitable for people with learning disabilities. The use of video within the BBC website to communicate with non readers is consistently of a high standard.
There were other initiatives as well, some of the ceebeebies website was designed to allow children who were switch users to access games, the ill fated BBC Jam had some superb age appropriate resources for learners with disabilities, through these and its BBC ouch channel the BBC has truly shone as a very clear beacon or standard of commitment.
Clearly things are changing at the BBC - I blame Jonathan Ross, thats just a general blame nothing specific, but lets hope that the BBC recognises and values what it has itself achieved in deleivering the mandate from the Royal Charter.
That charter lays out the mandate of the BBC as including
- A redefinition of the BBC's "public services" (which are considered its prime function):
- Sustaining citizenship and civil society;
- Promoting education and learning;
- Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;
- Representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities;
- Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK;
- Helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services, and taking a leading role in the switchover to digital television.
- The BBC must display at least one of the following characteristics in all content: high quality, originality, innovation, to be challenging and to be engaging.
- The BBC must demonstrate that it provides public value in all of its major activities
The accessibility portfolio of the BBC is one of the finest ways in which this is achieved. So make sure that if you have an opportunity you applaud their work, the web would be a poorer place without it