Think of message boards, and most people have a similar idea. Its where people with similar interests, be that bird watching, or tank driving, go to discuss and exchange ideas. A few boards are about people, such as the famous and popular Mumsnet. Message boards come and go, but why do they come into existance? And, more importantly, why do they die? Its usually demand that brings a board into existance, and lack of interest that causes its death. So what happens to a message board that is hugely popular, filling a role that few others can emulate, when the owners decide to kill it off? This is what is happening to the hugely successful BBC Ouch boards, described as the largest message board for disability related discussions in the UK. Its header declares "Ouch! Its a disability thing" and it very much is. Unusually for a message board, it is very well mannered, as posters are aware that other posters may have a disability that makes communication difficult. Additionally there is no heirachy, no playing top trumps of disability, all are truely welcome. I personally joined with a broken leg that was stubbornly refusing to mend - hardly a major disability! Many join looking for people with similar conditions, or experiencing similar problems. Their first post may be one of desperation, but the kind words and assistance means they stay and become part of the community. And this is one major difference. For many of the posters this is their only online community. They cannot deal with other sites, where they may have to interact with people who neither know or care about how disability can affect people. They feel safe and secure on Ouch, after all, the BBC will protect them, and it does so through user-led moderation, and a pre-moderated phase to discourage people from targetting disabled people with intent to be unpleasant. In effect it is almost a secret place, where people can ask for advice, ask for support, debate all things disability related, and chat and amuse themselves. There are many professionals on the boards, available to give advise about everything, from what to expect from treatments and the NHS, education, housing, benefits, work to the best disabled sports venues and which festivals are dis-friendly. This is all voluntary information, given by disabled people to support other disabled people. But the greatest strength is the feeling of community, the feeling of having your very own "Big Society" initiative that was established long before David Cameron thought it was a good idea. One poster put it; "It takes me years to trust someone. It takes me years to get to the point I am at with Ouch where I can feel able to post and contribute. I can't just move to another board and carry on." They then go on to say; "Over the last few years the sites I have relied on, and trusted have all gone. Ouch is the only one left. I have no real life friends, no real life support networks. I only have Ouch." For many Ouch is not just a message board, it is a gateway into a world that disability may exclude. It provides a very valuable service. A poster writes; "My worlds just collapsed." and it probably has, because for many people Ouch is all they have, it is an accessible place in a world of inaccessibility, a place of understanding when so many seem not only to not understand, but to be actively mis-understanding of disability. Its seems that this active mis-understanding has extended now to the BBC, who have decided, along with many other sectors of society, that instead of equality of outcome, they will simply remove this essential service. Visit Ouch before it closes, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/messageboards/ and post a comment to the Editor at; http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2011/06/a_new_home_for_ouch_at_bbc_new.html In four weeks we will watch the sad death of a friend, the death of a community, murdered by policy and the disregard that disabled people are currently held in.