This is probably a confusing statement to those of you who do not have a disability, but thankfully there are some positives of being dealt a not so great card in life, and for myself especially it’s the reason my life can function so smoothly, and keep me driven to have as normal a life as possible!
Don’t get me wrong there are some days you want to shout in frustration, stuck in your own home due to lack of confidence to leave your front door or in some cases a persons‘ pain can be so severe that it can physically debilitate them.
Fortunately though we’re here to talk about the good stuff, so I may aswell get cracking 😎
- Support from the NHS.
Having a life long disability means that you probably have several appointments a year, if not a month, and the Doctors just want to do the best for their patients. When I was younger I had weekly hydrotherapy sessions, alongside being fully measured for my own wheelchair: these two support systems alone made my disease more bareable to manage but also gave me the independence to get to and from classes quickly, and spend some time socialising with friends without the need of myasking for as much help from family.
- Local support from your council.
When I first lost the last of my useful vision, I contacted my local council and referred myself to Adult Social Services. I filled out a few forms over the phone, and it wasn’t long until I was contacted by a Rehabilitation Officer who gave me long cane training, and taught me how to safely plan and execute my routes to places such as; the local shops, doctors surgery and train station. I was also given a few utensils to aid me with cooking safely and effectively. Without this service I would still be house bound and waiting on friends and family to get me from A to B.
- Free bus travel.
This is one of my favourite perks; buses are stupidly expensive and for someone like myself who cannot drive and has to rely on public transport, it’s a cost I wouldn’t be able to afford on my income for how frequently I travel.
There is a second perk to the bus pass and that is, now that I am legally blind I have a little C in the top corner of the bus pass enabling a second person to travel with me free. Being blind and moving to a new area, or attending a new destination I need the support of a sighted guide for the first few times on these routes so I then can feel confident to travel alone, It’s a fantastic service offered by most councils but check if you’re entitled to it first, as not all councils have this.
- Reduced prices on train travel.
Railcards are bought and distributed by National Rail. You can pay for 1,2 or 3 years upfront and get a 1/3 off future train travel, National Rail have several railcards that do this but I have a Disabled Adult Railcard.
Another great service that i’ve recently found out about is a CVI card, which you show to the ticket office when you purchase your ticket and you and your guide can get half price rail travel if you return within the same day. In order to be entitled to this you have to be registered as Visually Impaired (VI) by your local eye hospital, and your local council should have a copy of the Certificate of Visual Impairment (CVI).
- Blue badge holders.
There’s no paying for parking when you have a blue badge, and with them being conveniently placed at the front of the store, you don’t have to walk far. The disabled bays are deliberately larger to accommodate passengers with disabilities, specifically wheelchair users, more maneuverable distance to retrieve the wheelchair. People have deliberately stopped and stared to “Check” if I was disabled. It’s extremely gratifying to see them watch me get into my wheelchair and scuttle off hastily when they realise that yes, I’m actually disabled!
- Buy one get one free!
People who are registered disabled are entitled to take a companion to places for free, such as; the Theatre, Concerts and theme parks.The disabled person pays the full price of one ticket and the companion/ carer goes free. I think this is an excellent service as there have been occasions where I wanted to go somewhere but knew I couldn’t do it unaccompanied so I would offer to pay a friends’ travel expenses on top so I could enjoy the performance. 9/10 my friends have enjoyed the experience and asked to join on future outings 🙂
- No P.E
When I was in school, and confined to my wheelchair it was physically and emotionally distressing trying to join in with P.E. Being disabled was a one-way ticket to freedom: bye bye winter mornings running on the icy ground! I was able to sit inside in the lovely warmth and either get on with homework, or my favorite, read a book 🙂
- Queue jumping.
This is another one of my favourite perks, going to a theme park, the Theatre or the Airport allows me access to queue jumping. Wheelchair access is available at all theme parks and most theatres, this access is usually at the back of the ride, or establishment, meaning you enter a different way to the crowd and thus able to queue jump.
My personal favourite queue jumping time is at the airport, luckily I am no longer in need of my wheelchair but as I’m blind I ask for assistance to get through the airport, by having this I’m then able to arrive later than passengers waiting to check in, get automatically checked in and get put through security swiftly, therefore no waiting around! My partner and I did this earlier on in the year and he laughed heartily at the annoyed faces of some of the passengers as we were taken straight to the front desk by staff and trotted off merrily after we had checked our bags in.
- No standing on buses.
It’s rush hour and most people are standing face to face trying not to sniff the other persons smelly armpits or accidentally kiss them on the face when the bus comes to an abrupt stop. Unless the bus is rammed with other disabled people you are sure to get a seat without even having to ask.
- Meeting new people.
I have met so many wonderful, kind and interesting people over the last 4 years specifically. Whether I’m sitting next to a person on the bus or train, or just walking home from town, I’ve encountered a vast amount of people, talking to me about their lives. As I’m blind and use a long cane people recognise that I can’t see well and have offered me assistance, on a few occasions I’ve truly needed the help as I’ve missed a turn or in a big open space unsure of which direction to take, when people have come up to me and asked if I was ok. More often than not I know where I am and where I’m going but if I mention which direction I’m heading and they are too, we tend to walk together chatting. It’s a lovely experience and it opens my eyes to the kindness and thoughtfulness of others, these people are what keeps my faith in humanity.