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/RSD) 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.
This Disability Access page is to show that there are some very good examples of places. These places are where you can get round without encountering any problem. As well as the poor examples where it can cause not only upset but also embarrassment, anger, anxiety or even cause panic attacks.
We also include information about the various schemes available for people. Consequently they who are disabled to get around cheaper or for free as well as concessions for disabled people or their carer/friend. See further down the page for all this information!
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Getting Around On Public TransportGetting around on public transport, into shops, toilets, cafes, bars, restaurants as a disabled person. These tasks are filled with apprehension and thoughts such as:
You have probably heard or thought those sorts of things and more before as a disabled person!
‘Am I going to get in there?’
‘Will my scooter/wheelchair fit in that lift?’
‘There are stairs to get up that floor sir, we don’t have a lift I’m afraid!’
From those disabled people who have contacted us about disabled access, most have come across many excuses for not having disabled access into somewhere or once in no disabled facilities i.e. bathroom. Excuses such as:
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‘the building is too old to have a lift,’ ‘ well, we don’t have that many people in wheelchairs,’ ‘once people come inside in their wheelchair, they usually get out and climb down the steps so we don’t need a ramp there’….. The list is endless. When we say ‘excuses‘ it’s because the majority of them are indeed just excuses. That is not to say that every reason for not giving disabled access is an excuse. This is because there are as in always exception to the rule! What ‘excuses’ have you heard?
Goof Example of Listening & Changing Disabled AccessThe couple had been going to a pub near their home for a long time. Even before 1 of the couple became less-abled and in a wheelchair. Furthermore 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 attention to 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 me to come up the steep short slope. Therefore 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. We which they agreed that was something we 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 saying 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.
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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.
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Access At Symphony Hall, BirminghamA fellow CRPS/RSD 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.
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What do we need to do to change this problem of disability access being so poor in the UK?
What To Do To Get Change for Disability Access?
- Talk to the manager of the shop, restaurant, bar, rail station, workplace or wherever you are and explain that you are disabled even if your disability may not at first be obvious
- Explain about Invisible Disability and that disability comes in all shapes and sizes, there is not 1 uniform standard type of wheelchair or disability aid
- Outline the possible simple changes that could be made to the place or building to help disabled people
- Make posts about the problems you had on social media or on an online place like Trip Adviser
- Get involved in disability campaigns so the law can change for the better. Yes we do have laws covering disability access but they are not always enforced, which is wrong
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PART 2: GETTING AROUND WITH A DISABILITY
We have produced some excellent information for you regarding getting around and about with a disability which includes disabled travel via train, car, buses, coaches, community transport as well as getting in and around London (UK).
DISABLED TRAVEL BY TRAINSUK – Get 1/3 off train fares for you and a friend/carer with a disabled railcard As a Disabled Persons Railcard holder you will receive up to 30%, 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. 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.”
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CARUK – Motability information Over the past 30 years, Motability has helped millions of disabled people exchange their mobility allowance for a new car, mobility scooter or electric wheelchair. BLUE BADGE SCHEME – UK Blue Badge scheme to help park nearer to where you need to be. As a Blue Badge holder you also get other concessions including the M6 toll road (see below) some river crossings, bridges and tunnels. NOTIFYING DVLA regarding your disability or condition that may affect your driving, when they need to be notified, what will happen to your licence, exempt from vehicle tax, Motability scheme etc.. VEHICLE ROAD TAX – Check your entitlement to exemption or discount of vehicle road tax. You will also find out the various types of vehicle that are exempt from vehicle tax (car tax) – vehicles used by disabled people, mobility scooters, historic vehicles, electric vehicles, mowing … M6 TOLL MOBILITY EXEMPTION – If you travel along the M6 toll road in the UK, then you may be entitled to an M6 toll mobility exemption pass. Visit the M6 Toll mobility exemptions page for further information including the application.
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BUSES & COACHESDISABLED BUS PASS – In England & Wales you must contact your local council to find out who issues disabled bus passes in your area as part of the English National. Concessionary Travel Scheme. DISABLED BUS PASS – Scotland, you must contact your Local Authority or Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) to apply for your National Entitlement Card. DISABLED BUS PASS – Northern Ireland, visit NI Direct for more information as there are a number of different types of concession available. DISABLED BUS PASS – Ireland, please have a look at the Citizens Information website for all the rules and information about the Public Services Card.
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COACH TRAVELUK – NATIONAL EXPRESS – You can get 1/3 off National Express coach fares with a disabled coach card. There is a yearly cost of £10 plus £2 p&p. The DISABLED COACHCARD gives you a saving of ⅓ off standard fares on travel anywhere in the UK when accompanied by a paying adult. There are also accessible coaches as well. Here’s a link to their DISABLED COACHCARD leaflet including an application form. CITY LINK (SCOTLAND) – You can get FREE travel if you use your National Entitlement Card on City Link coaches. To find out about the National Entitlement Card please visit Transport Scotland’s website. GOLDLINE (NORTHERN IRELAND) – You can get half price travel if you use your SmartPass on Goldline coaches. For more information about the SmartPass in Northern Ireland, please visit NIDirect website.
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COMMUNITY TRANSPORTENGLAND & WALES – There is the possibility of UK Transport from your home to the shops with Community Disabled Transport and Shopmobility. Just type in your postcode into the checker on the Government website to find out what is available in your area. SCOTLAND – Visit the Community Transport Association or CTA for more information about the availability of community transport in your area, as every local authority has a different scheme for those with difficulties or elderly. NORTHERN IRELAND – There are schemes for Shopmobility and for Community Transport across Northern Ireland. There is also a scheme called Disability Action Transport Scheme or DATS that is for those with disabilities and is a door to door scheme. You can use the DATS service to take you to work, local shops, town centre, hairdressers, the doctor etc. To join the scheme telephone 0845 608 5555 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org IRELAND/EIRE – The scheme here in Ireland is Accessible Community Transport Southside (ACTS Ltd) and it is seen as a travel club for those with limited mobility and those with disabilities. You need to join ACTS before you can take advantage of the scheme. To join telephone them on Dublin 01-2921573 or 01-2921574 or send them an email to email@example.com Also in DUBLIN, IRELAND there is also another company called Care Cabs who provide assisted door to door transport who require carer assistance to travel whether it is for hospital appointments or recreational trips. They have ambulances and wheelchair taxis available. Please visit the CARE CABS website for more details. Their main office phone number is 018535363 or you can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org
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TRAVEL IN & AROUND LONDONFor those of you who LIVE IN LONDON or have your sole residence in London AND you have a disability listed, you can apply for a DISABLED PERSONS FREEDOM PASS. You can use your pass on most journeys across London however there are a few exceptions to where and when you can use the card. Visit the LONDON COUNCILS website for more information on eligibility, applying and using your card. Just like the Disabled Persons Freedom Pass, the TAXICARD is for those who LIVE IN LONDON or have your sole residence in London AND you have a disability. You can apply for a TAXICARD by application form from your respective London Borough – you can check which form you need using their online BOROUGH MAP. You can request an application form by phone, e-mail, post or by downloading the application form from their website. Visit the LONDON COUNCILS website for more information on the TAXICARD. Once you have your Taxicard you can use it everyday or nigh, 24/7 & 365 days of the year.
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DAYS OUT WITH A DISABILITY
CINEMASCEA CARD Visit UK participating cinemas nationwide and get discounted tickets or a free ticket for accompanying friend/carer by applying for a CEA CARD cost is a yearly fee of £6.00. CEA are the Cinema’s Exhibitors Association. <https://www.ceacard.co.uk/index.aspx>
THEATRES & CONCERTSIf you love seeing shows or music live but find them expensive, try booking with the venue direct by contacting their box office or accessibility line and enquire if they have any concessions for disabled. Some places will offer a free ticket for accompanying carer or friend and will help to provide seats in an accessible area to suit your needs and for wheelchair. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR CONCESSIONS, IF YOU DON’T ASK YOU DON’T GET THEM! In London there are several London theatres who are focused on disability ticket concessions or concessions for your carer/friend. Visit Cheap Theatre Tickets for their list <https://www.cheaptheatretickets.com/london-theatre-access/> DAYS OUT Days out are similar to theatre and concerts, contact the place direct and enquire if they have any concessions for the disabled. Some will 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.
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DAYS OUT – NATIONAL TRUST & ENGLISH HERITAGEBoth the National Trust & 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 to the Support Services Centre. To request one of the All Admit One Card’s you can either email the Support Service Centre on email@example.com or telephone them on 01793 817634o. They will need the name and full postal address of the disabled person
CONCESSIONS AT PUBLIC LIBRARIESSome libraries offer the following services at a reduced rate or free of charge to disabled people:
- computer access
- audio and visual material
- overdue books