Student blogs: Breaking down barriers with the BBC!

All of our IT students and IT staff stand in a group, posing with some BBC staff outside the BBC Media City in Manchester. There is a sign in the background that reads ‘BBC Sport’.

Last week, our BTEC IT students were given a tailored tour of BBC Media City in Manchester, visiting the different areas and developing an understanding of the job opportunities which exist among their 20,000 staff.

The BBC have several schemes targeted at bringing disabled people in to the organisation, head of IT at RNC (Royal National College for the Blind), Teresa Allen explains “This all came about as a result of a tweet I saw back in December, where the BBC were promoting an evening for disabled people to see the employment opportunities at the BBC. I emailed Nicola (BBC), but she said the event was for graduates, but offered to find out if they could offer something specific to us, which she did!”


During their tour, our students met Ben Mustill Rose, who is registered blind and works in the technology team at BBC’s iPlayer, and he said “The BBC, as an employer, are all about integration and not all disabled employees are doing disability-related things.” Ben’s interview on BBC Manchester is available to listen again for 16 more days (until 8 April). Fast forward to 2:13:45 to hear Ben exploring the range of opportunities available at the BBC to people with disabilities.


The student blogs of our 9 IT students can be found below, those students along with staff at RNC, would like to thank everyone at the BBC who ensured that our students had a truly amazing experience. Particular thanks go out to the many interesting speakers the BBC provided us with, including:

  • Assistive Technology at the BBC –Paul Bepey
  • Entry Routes into the BBC – Margaret Burgin
  • About BBC Digital Sport – Shaun Bent
  • Being Me at the BBC – Ben Mustill Rose
  • Making Accessible Games for Children – Suzanne Clarke
  • About BBC iPlayer – Damian Cox
  • R&D/Blue Room Immersive Audio Activity (Ahmed Razek & Colin Warhurst)
  • BBC Sport Journalist – Olly Foster

We would also like to thank the BBC for providing us with an official photographer for the day!


RNC student blogs

Lewis Smith

Students standing in a group in the sports studio, listening to a BBC talk, the room is really tall with lots of cameras and pieces of equipment above the students’ heads.

Lewis, second from right in the hat, is enjoying a talk in the sports studio.

Upon attending the trip to the BBC Media city Salford Quays complex I was expecting to find a person informing us of the equality that the BBC employed and reciting their policies to us. However I am pleased to report that I could not have been more wrong. We were greeted by staff with no hassle or fuss and were shown upstairs to a function room where there was a chance to talk to a blind employee of the BBC and this was extremely helpful as it allowed us to get an idea of the company ethics.

This was a brilliant way of showing what the company offered. Our first stop was to the Blue Room. This is the new tech area of the BBC. This was my favourite part of the experience as it allowed us to see the work they were doing with accessibility of their media as well as what they were using to accomplish this. We were also shown a form of audio that allowed for sound to pan around the wearer of any standard set of headphones. The sound was incredible and also allowed for a new level of immersion. This technology kept me thinking for the majority of the day as I could not work out what form of software was allowing the Cartesian movement of the sound. (I assume it was using Cartesian coordinates which designate the x,y,z axis as well as the time which is the fourth number. E.g. 1, 3, 5, 00.01).  After this we were shown downstairs to the media city tour area. It was here that we were given a tour of the studios.

This led to another of my favourite parts which was the fact I got to look at a robotic camera rig that was motorised to give it a remote control capability. It was great as this is a very unique chance that was given that we would not have gotten anywhere else. After this tour we were shown to an area where we met another employee that explained what it was like working at the business. This was also helpful as it was not a marketing officer it was an actual employee who was allowed to speak their mind: the on air sport’s journalist Olly Foster. This gave the experience meaning as it was not scripted. I look back over the day fondly as all of the staff where pleasant and helpful. They also gave a lot of great information on how to pursue a career within the BBC which was very helpful.  I really enjoyed the day and I hope to pursue a career with the BBC in the future.


George Jones

Some of the students are sitting in rows of benches in the Strictly Come Dancing dressing room. There are dresses on mannequins in the background and life size cardboard cut outs of the presenters – Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly.

George, front row on the right, is in the Strictly Come Dancing dressing room!

The trip to visit the BBC offices and studios in Manchester was very enjoyable and informative. The talk about the different apprenticeships that the BBC offers and the different schemes that they offer for people wanting to work in the media sector was the best part. I found this information very useful as it gave me lots of different ideas of what I can do when I leave college. I was very impressed by the way that the BBC employs people with disabilities and how well they are  adapting things to make it easier for them to fulfil their job role across various technology platforms e.g. choice of computer systems Apple or Microsoft. The tour around the BBC studies was great as it was good to find out how the BBC produce different shows but also how they prepare the studios before they produce a programme.


Sam Hopkins 

Some of the staff and students are sitting in rows of benches in one of the news rooms – there is a large picture of one of the BBC newsreaders, Bill Turnbull, on the back wall.

Sam, second row on the right, is enjoying a talk about the news of the day.

I found it really interesting when we were shown the different rooms which the BBC broadcast from including BBC Breakfast and Match of the Day. This is because the rooms were much smaller than I had perceived them whilst watching them. I was also surprised to see the amount of lights that were hanging down from the ceiling; it must be really hot for the presenters when they are all on.

The audio quality of ‘The Ring’ in the Blue Room was amazing and the description was also very easy to understand and flowed well with the film. The BBC was a very friendly atmosphere which really made me smile throughout the day. I feel so honoured to be able to have the opportunity to have a tour around the BBC and to meet such wonderful people. I am so glad that the BBC had mentioned employment opportunities throughout the day as well as creating a good CV as this is really going to help me when I leave college. Thank you for inviting us to visit the BBC, this was an unforgettable experience!!


Michael Fleet

Michael is standing in front of a massive screen featuring a weather map of the UK featuring temperatures and wind speeds. Michael has one arm pointing at the screen.

Michael – future weatherman??

I would like to thank everyone involved in the trip to BBC Manchester which was enjoyed last Wednesday. It was evident that the BBC had put in the effort to make our day as informative as possible.

In particular to it was definitely something I got a lot out of and now know about exciting potential job placements within the BBC, which I would not have thought were available to visually impaired people but I was proved wrong and definitely had my eyes opened up about this and there could potentially be a future within the BBC; something I hadn’t given much thought to prior to the trip.

The day itself was brilliant the bits that particularly stood out for me was firstly learning about different job opportunities open to us which was very informative and valuable advice was given.

The other parts that stood out was the “Blue Room” audio testing which was absolutely stunning and quite clearly shows the future is bright for new technologies to be released and to optimise the viewers experience. Definitely the tour was fantastic! Getting to see the studios where the programmes were filmed and realising how much you don’t see watching the programme on a television. It was great how we were allowed to touch the camera and equipment especially in the BBC breakfast studio and getting hands on with the cameras, getting an understanding by touch something which is important  for visually impaired people who can’t see where someone is pointing in relation to buttons etc. on a piece of equipment. It also had to be said I think I have found my new profession being a very entertaining weather man! Well maybe I need to brush up on my geography a bit and need to stop asking who has moved the different locations, but all considered I have made a good start in achieving this!

So thank you for a valuable experience which I truly loved and got so much out of!


Jake Holt

Jake is standing beside IT teacher Teresa Allen as one of the BBC staff members describes what happens in the blue room.

Jake, far right, with IT teacher Teresa Allen (middle), learn all about the BBC blue room.

I enjoyed the trip, especially the tour of the radio and TV studios. I thought that the radio studio tour was especially interesting as this area is what I personally am involved in, as a music producer and radio presenter/DJ.

I learnt a lot that day, and thought that the lighted windows used as the backdrop for BBC Breakfast set were interesting. Other than the tour, I found the staff very accommodating, I loved the food, and I learnt a lot about employment at the BBC, it’s not as daunting as I initially thought.



Hubert Pawelkiewicz

Hubert is behind the scenes of the talent show The Voice; he is sitting on a big chair on a podium with his hand pressing a buzzer in front of him.

Hubert – future judge on The Voice??

Starting with an excellent lunch, we got a chance to talk to one of the visually impaired employees at the BBC. His name was Paul, and I took this as an opportunity to discuss the way they use technology. This is something that’s always interested me.

The next talk was from the person in charge of technical aspects of BBC sport broadcasts. This was quite interesting, especially when the talk moved on to facts and figures. We started looking at more specific technical details, such as numbers of visitors of certain sites, numbers of users of apps or their certain functions, and BBC’s data storage, and backup solutions.

The last talk, was regarding children’s games design with Suzanne. She was clearly not only passionate about her area of work, but also genuinely excited to talk to us, and happy to talk to people afterwards via email.

I enjoyed the Blue Room activity where we had to sit with headphones on and listen to a piece of a horror radio drama. We were using Binaural audio, which can be referred to as 3D audio, so the sound is very different and very realistic. I will never forget the various terrifying sounds I heard. However, it was a great activity, and if binaural audio could be used more in radio dramas, it’ll make it an entirely different and much better listening experience.

Next was the tour of studios and afterwards we got a chance to talk to BBC sport presenter Olly Foster. He told us all about how he got to where he is now, which was really important to me as I was looking to get tips on what I can do (apart from the radio programme and sound mixing that I am already doing)  to work for the BBC.


Josh Meinhardt

Andrew and Josh are standing in front of a massive clock on the wall, from the gameshow Countdown. Andrew is guiding Josh’s hand and placing it on one of the hands of the giant clock.

Josh, on the right, is taking on the Countdown clock!

The visit to BBC media city, Manchester was both an enjoyable and interesting experience. Upon the arrival to the event, we were served a buffet lunch (which was excellent quality, I must admit). Once everybody had arrived and had eaten their lunch, we began the day’s activities. Firstly, we were given various interesting talks from the staff about the types of work that goes on within the BBC and how they support both users and employees with disabilities.

After the talks were given, the next activity gave us the chance to look at some of the technology both used and developed by the BBC. The part I found most interesting was the binaural audio clip of the ring that was shown to us (use headphones). Binaural technology allows the creation of more realistic audio by using 3D sound.

After the audio clip, we were shown the BBC iPlayer app running on various devices (such as an android tablet) and how the accessibility software on said devices works with their applications.

Once we had finished the technology activity, we then went on to do a tour of the BBC studios which included where the BBC match of the day is filmed, radio 5 live, 6 music and BBC breakfast. We looked at the radio studios, how the cameras were used, how the backdrop was shown and how the scene is changed with paint and lighting on TV.

The last activity (or talk in this instance) of the day was given by one of the radio news presenters. He explained how the job worked (travelling to various locations at any time of the day) to sitting behind a microphone in the studio.


Andrew Fleet

The group are walking towards the camera, Josh and Andrew are in the foreground of the picture with the others walking behind. They’re walking across the Quays in Manchester.

Andrew, on the right, takes a stroll along the Quays.

Before visiting the BBC last week, I had never considered how many different jobs are available within one business. I was also amazed at the support which was being offered to disabled employees. It was also great to see how departments work with each other (something not so clear in other businesses.) I am now looking at the career options available and the BBC is definitely one I would like to investigate further.



George Woodland

Hubert, George Woodland and George Jones are on the set of Question of Sport. The three are sitting behind the panellists’ desks, each have the ‘QS’ logo in front of them.

George Woodland, centre, is talking a Question of Sport.

The experience at the BBC was worth the drive from Hereford. As a group I believe we were given an insight into the workings of the BBC that very few would have found more beneficial. We were met by Nicola who arranged the event for us and then met Paul who also works for the BBC as the head of assistive tech. For visually impaired visitors like us to see and talk to him was an inspiring feat. The Blue Room was a truly fantastic experience to be shown the most innovative sound technology; coming from a college where the teaching medium is through sound was inspirational.

I learnt a lot about the possibilities that can be given at the BBC and potential end goals working for a company that is a main backbone for the UK, a news-broadcast that reaches throughout the world and what the UK population should be proud of.


If you are interested in coming to study at RNC, please give our student enquiries line on 01432 376 621 to find out more, or email


Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC



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