Having a disabilty shouldn't stop you from getting around and having enjoyable experiences as you do so. Disability access, transport, travel and concessions are all things that we will explore here. There are plenty of ways that you can get around without encountering problems, but we know that there are also poor examples of where this hasn't been the case, which can cause not only upset but also embarrassment, anger, anxiety or even cause panic attacks.
We have included information about the various schemes available for to people living with a disability, as well as for their carer/friend.
Disability access can be challenging in all sorts of places outside your own home. There are some great places to go where you can just be yourself without having to worry about your disability. However having a condition like Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or chronic pain, because it is an Invisible Disability, the general public can be very cruel and unrelenting. This is simply because they are unable to see it or comprehend the pain you feel.
Getting around on public transport, into shops, toilets, cafes, bars, restaurants as a disabled person can be tasks that are filled with apprehension and thoughts such as:
As a disabled person, you have probably heard or thought these sorts of things and more before!
Of the disabled people who have contacted us about disabiloty access, most have come across many excuses for not having suitable disabled access or facilities (i.e. bathroom) Examples include:
…The list is endless. When we say 'excuses' it is because the majority of them are indeed just that, but that is not to say that every reason for not giving disabled access isn't valid. What 'excuses' have you heard?
The couple had been going to a pub near their home for a long time. Even before one of the couple became less-abled and in a wheelchair. The disabled access was round the back, next to the bins at the back gate. You had to go over rough old cobble stones to get the ramp to the back fire-exit door to try and get in.
There was no way of attracting the attention of a member of staff. This was a result of the back room that the back fire exit door wasn’t really used except on Sundays. At one time there used to be a small bell on the door jam next to the door. Although that had been taken off years before.
If you didn’t know about the disabled access entrance, you would think that it wasn’t possible to get in. This was a result of no signs on the front door to say where the access was. The couple had told the management on a couple of occasions and had asked to speak to the manager of the pub. Yet no reply ever came until they had gone to the pub one evening and went through the back gate.
There was glass everywhere on the ramp. This was in the cobbled area and there was also a long piece of wood with a couple of old rusty bent nails stuck in it. They couldn’t believe it. How dangerous not just for a wheelchair but any disabled person using the exit! The lady's husband went round to the front to go through the pub to the back exit. So he could open the fire door for her to come up the steep short slope. This meant leaving the young woman on her own in a dark corner of a building with no lighting whatsoever.
After complaining to the waiter and showing him the problem he said he would get the manager to telephone the couple at home. Which they agreed that was something they wanted. Unfortunately they again heard nothing until around 3 weeks later when the disabled woman decided to put a review on Trip Advisor.
The review said the access was terrible and something needed sorting. Within only a few hours of the review going live did they have a message from the manager of the pub saying he was sorry. Advising that he was unaware of the complaints and to telephone him, which they did.
The couple couldn’t believe what they heard… He was actually going to sort the access out! Yes you read that correctly, he promised that he was going to have talks with his management and building advisers. The young woman couldn’t believe it, finally someone was taking notice of disability and was planning on making the disabled access better for the pub. BRILLIANT!!!
While they were on the phone she went through things like the height of the bell. This was to advise the staff when someone was at the door, signs at the right height both at the front door where everyone goes through indicating there is a disabled access route into the pub. The gradient of the ramp, where to put the bell… Things that maybe not as obvious to someone not in a wheelchair or scooter or not with crutches or walking sticks.
Within a few weeks the access was ready and they couldn’t believe the transformation! There was a little lit pathway with good strong railings to the access door. Lovely clear signs both at the front door saying where the access was and at the entry point itself and the bell at the right height! Wow – what a change! All from writing on Trip Advisor.
So… You see the power of a written complaint can transform disability access all around the country, if you make your views known at the time to that person, company, shop, restaurant, manager or wherever it is needed. It doesn’t need a lot of funds to change access points into disabled friendly access, instead sometimes it can be done quite cheaply and it comes back to you in the form of revenue, repeat custom, new custom.. The list is endless.
A fellow CRPS sufferer, Nita, from the UK contacted Burning Nights CRPS Support with this information about Symphony Hall in Birmingham:
"Symphony Hall Birmingham is excellent. With prior arrangement parking is allowed just outside the main entrance. People in wheelchairs (whether able to transfer or not) can sit in excellent positions with their party and not tucked into a corner somewhere. Staff are very helpful. Without being asked, a member of staff stowed my wheelchair and brought it to me at the interval. Before booking I phoned and the person taking the call was very helpful."
Travelling with a disability can seem a daunting prospect, so we have compiled some useful information on getting around with a disability, including disabled travel via train, car, buses, coaches, community transport as well as getting in and around London (UK).
Get 1/3 off train fares for you and a friend/carer with a Disabled Railcard. However, there is a yearly charge £20, or £54 for 3 years. You can receive various other discounts at specific hotels, restaurants and even days out, as well as receive assistance on and off trains. Beverley said:
"Recently travelled to Manchester by train in wheelchair and the assistance was a great help, staff couldn’t do enough for me, made the journey so much easier."
Similar to with theatres and concerts, contact the venue directly to enquire whether they have any concessions for people with a disability. Some might offer a free ticket for accompanying carer or friend and, in rare cases, some even offer free entry. If attending theme parks with children, some parks offer queue-jump access.
Both the National Trust and English Heritage give FREE entry to companions or carers of disabled visitors. The disabled visitor pays the normal admission fee or membership.
To save having to ask for free entry at a National Trust property, you can apply for an Access for All Admit One Card in advance by contacting the Support Service Centre: telephone (01793 817634) or email (email@example.com). They will need the name and full postal address of the disabled person.
Some libraries offer the following services at a reduced rate or free of charge to disabled people:
This will vary between local authorities, so check with your local council.
Some football clubs offer concessions to fans with disabilities, as well as their carers. You need to check with the individual football club to see what concessions they offer. Most clubs will want proof of disability, for example using your DLA/PIP disability letter from the DWP.
Do you have somewhere you go that has good or bad disability access? Do you have any more information about the different concession available for disabled people? If so please contact us so that we can keep this page as up-to-date as possible.
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Last Updated: 16/09/2019