Disability Page Contents

- Disabilities and Transport
- Disabilities and Entertainment
- Disabilities and Weight Gain
-Utilities priority registers
- Other Disability-Related Resources

Disabilities and Transport

Particularly given it's 2022, I've found every mode of transport available to me this year totally inadequate and in some cases, downright disgraceful. I've been stood up by cabs, shouted at for having the audacity to have a wheelchair, I've been repeatedly told I can't use a wheelchair accessible taxi because the driver isn't insured to help me in, and I've crawled up train ramps because the station couldn't accommodate a wheelchair. I've even fallen in the road because of puddles obscuring potholes. I always get a normal taxi because in theory it's easier, and usually cheaper to get than a wheelchair accessible one and I'm able to weight bear for long enough to transfer safely.  That said, I've been other parts of the country where it's been better, so like most things in life, it's something of a lottery I guess. Either way, it's not good enough in any way shape or form. I have chronic fatigue and concentration problems so I'm limited in the length of time I can spend doing admin but when I can manage to put in a complaint to the appropriate company or department (I usually enlist help), I do. I really, really urge you guys, physically disabled or not, to speak up, as nothing is going to improve otherwise. The louder the voice, the better the chances.

And if you're still doubtful that raising your voice can make a difference, I thoroughly recommend 'Then Barbara Met Alan' about two disability campaigners whose efforts largely contributed to the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act, which later led to the 2010 Equality Act (except in Northern Ireland, where I believe it remains in place. It's 1 hour 7 minutes long.

There is also an outstanding woman called Nina Tame who's an activist for disability rights. She is mainly visible on Social Media I believe.
Here's an article by her:

If you're a train traveller in the UK, here's a link where you can get a disabled persons railcard:
  I forget the initial outlay but it entitles you to 1/3 off the cost of your train journey.  Unless it's changed, I think you have to go in in person to get a Disabled Persons Bus Pass, so that will depend on where you live.  

Disability and Entertainment

Now let's face it. The world, and the UK more than many places has a long way to go to be providing accessible safe places for different needs.  I've read much to suggest that in terms of physical accessibility, things have actually got worse since the start of the pandemic and I say with sadness that this is certainly a view I'd concur with.  When hospitality venues were forced to explore social distancing provisions, I watched with interest, realizing that this was a supreme opportunity to improve wheelchair accessibility too, what with us needing space. And flatness. Space and flatness are great.  It didn't happen in many places though.  Most people can't concentrate on more than one thing at once I guess. I'm blessed that I live in a community-spirited area where venue staff and owners have taken the time to try and improve their businesses as far as they are able, not just for my benefit, but for everyone's.  Whereas fatigue, introversion and lack of funds stop it being too regular an occurrence, visiting friends, and that's what most of them are, literally keeps me sane.  Partly just the fresh air of the jaunt.  If you are a venue owner, manager or staff member, scroll to the bottom of this section for a redirection link to my 'Information for Venues' page.  With creativity, even a completely inaccessible place can sometimes become so.  I went to a gig a few years back at a place I knew had lots of stairs from my not in a wheelchair days, but a good friend who knew I loved the act (thanks Paul) said that with another strapping lad (thanks James) we could do it. The management met us on arrival, and the sound tech met us upstairs. Gave me permission to use the same level toilet (the men's), then allowed me to sit at the front, which helps me manage too much stimulation which can trigger my fits.  I'm aware not everyone has two strapping lads to hand, and in truth, I borrow them (thanks Estelle and Sue), but I hope it illustrates the point.  

If you're like me and require someone to help you at gigs, most bigger venues will offer a free companion ticket.  You'll probably have to send confirmation of receipt of disability benefits (PIP or DLA), but only the first time you use that venue.  Usually for disabled people, there's a different method of booking, which is frustrating but still.  It'll vary between venues.  The information should be on the web site, but it often takes a little while to find in my experience.  There is often a dedicated phone line, and if booking a companion ticket, you may be asked to email proof that you purchased the one ticket, so that they can organise the other.  Theatres, concert halls and arenas may have their own companion scheme that you have to register for, again, just once.  Some are also registered withe the Access Card Scheme, where you have a set of printed icons on your card (which you pay a small fee plus renewal for), which explain your access needs, and it's all on the database so you're not having to explain yourself at the venue (and stressing about last minute problems, which I'm sure we've all had):

Incidentally, I received an email from them in I think June, saying that although obviously new icons would mean a reissue of cards, they will consider adding one to indicate prescription cannabis in future rollouts.

Lastly, I'm not a cinema-goer myself as I have a dreadful attention span, and without pause, rewind (multiple times) and the opportunity for a mid-way nap, my keeping up is unlikely.  Also darkness. I'd be asleep in moments.  But again, for those who do, and require a lovely assistant, there is the CEA card, which entitles you to companion tickets:

or scroll down for further resources

Disability and Weight Gain 

I'm really pleased to have been contacted by Samantha from Renew Bariatrics, who has pointed me to this resource. Although they are based in America, it's a useful information tool in it's own right, about something I personally think there is woefully little information, much of which is ignorant and outdated. I remember not long after I became a full-time wheelchair user about seven years ago, we were trying to figure out what medication might help me and I always asked if they would lead to weight gain and if so, whether it was metabolic or appetite-related. Now, my GP is terrific, so I'm not meaning to have a go but I remember her looking at my small frame and body, which they are, and saying that I had no need to worry about that. I got a bit distressed because this worried me a lot, I was really physically active before, and said that not now, but if I piled on weight I'd have no way of losing or controlling it. Because I'm very limited in what I can do physically, I at least keep my muscle tone and strength by doing callanetics, which is a series of tiny movements which I'd adapted to be lying down exercises after I'd had surgery, with the help from a kind lady called Sandra Hanna who was running the Australian studio at the time (I'd contacted her). Google or put it YouTube if you would like to know more.

Utilities - Priority registers

I recently found out (thanks mum) that there's such a thing as a priority register for the national grid, supplier of our electricity. In the event of a power blackout, this could prove valuable if you're reliant on electrical aids like scooters, powerchairs, stairlift, nebulizers etc. If you're an older person or disabled, you can register via the coloured link, and the page you're directed to also shows how to contact your water supplier to register as priority with them too: The National Grid priority register

Other Disability-Related Resources

Equalities Act 2010 (Government Equalities Office Explainer): https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Documents/Advice%20booklets/equlity-act-2010-overview.pdf

Equalities Act 2010 (Government Legislation in full): 

Inclusive Mobility: A Guide to Best Practice On Access to Pedestrian and Transport Infrastructure (Department of Transport, Dec 2021 update): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1044542/inclusive-mobility-a-guide-to-best-practice-on-access-to-pedestrian-and-transport-infrastructure.pdf

Train line Accessible Travel Guide (UK):

Last updated: March 2024