`So, I'm blind. Why shouldn't I be a BBC television director?'

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The Independent Online
THE BBC has accepted its first blind man on to a trainee directors' course. Twenty-seven-year-old Damon Rose beat 350 people to join the Corporation at the beginning of December and his first report will be broadcast on Tuesday.

The training scheme specially for disabled applicants takes two recruits a year and is organised by the BBC's disability programmes unit, which includes 15 disabled people.

They spend their first six months with the unit, but Mr Rose will complete his two-year training in other departments where he will face competition alongside others also wanting placements.

Mr Rose, who lives at Sittingbourne in Kent, said yesterday that he had been delighted to get on to the production course.

"I was extremely happy that the people at the unit felt that my sightlessness wasn't a barrier. I knew that I could do it, but it's nice to have that confirmed."

Mr Rose said that he found it totally unsurprising that someone who could not see should want to work in television, particularly when more blind people "watched" television than listened to the radio.

"Blind people watch EastEnders and Coronation Street as part of the culture. And it's not just a visual medium - there is sound."

Mr Rose was a television addict before he lost his sight at the age of 13.

"It's obviously proved very useful. I was very, very au fait with television forms," he said.

Mr Rose said that if the job of a television director was analysed then the vast majority of the work was carried out in the office.

Only when he got to the shooting stage did he rely on the members of the crew to tell him what was in shot.

He added: "But the director doesn't do the camera work, that is the whole point. They direct. I plan the shot in my head."

Overcoming prejudice was the main problem, he said. "I do things differently, but I'm not ashamed of that. I'm equal but different.

"I'm happy to be the first blind person doing this. I'd like to think this coverage might open people's minds a bit."

Ian Macrae, editor of the BBC's disability programmes unit, which was set up seven years ago, said Mr Rose's training, including research, television writing and a camera-work course, was what any trainee would do.

Explaining the recruitment policy, Mr Macrae said: "There aren't enough disabled people on television, and one reason why ... is because there aren't enough disabled people in the industry."

He added: "We aim to address both these things."

Mr Rose's first report, about cars and the visually impaired, will be shown in BBC2's From The Edge magazine programme, billed as made by disabled people about disabled people but for everybody to watch, on Tuesday.

Although Mr Rose is thought to be the first blind director, the BBC correspondent on disability affairs, Peter White, is blind, and Mr Macrae himself is visually impaired.

Richard Lane, of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, said: "I really do think it's brilliant he's doing this. It does shatter the stereotypes. But he is definitely the exception rather than the norm. For [completely] blind people of working age only 17 per cent are working compared to 31 per cent of disabled people."