Hello, my name is Emma Purcell, I’m 26 years old and live in Alton, Hampshire, UK. I have quadriplegic cerebral palsy and registered blind. I’m the blogger of Rock For Disability and a freelance writer at online magazine Disability Horizons. In this guest blog post I would like to share my 10 perks of being a disabled person:
1. Free parking
The first and most commonly mentioned perk of being disabled is getting free parking.
In the UK, people who have a registered disability – physically, mentally and/or sensory – are eligible for free parking in most public car parks, as long as they have, and remember to display, their Blue Badge.
2. Free and discounted carer tickets
My favourite perk of all is getting free and discounted carer tickets at live music events, theatres, cinemas, tourist attractions and public transport.
This is because for many disabled people, myself included, require support when out and about and we shouldn’t have to pay full price for two tickets when that person is there for my benefit rather than just to see the event. Plus it means I can save money to purchase tickets for future events.
You still need to be eligible for free or discounted tickets. Many venues will ask for proof of your disability.
The way I do it is by using an Access Card. You can apply online with all your medical information then pay £15 for a card that lasts up to three years. The card simply has your name, ID number, ID photo and symbols representing your accessibility needs. So in my case, I have “+1”, “wheelchair access” and “blind tactile dots”, which represent I need a carer, wheelchair access and I’m registered blind.
3. Theatre touch tours
I haven’t been to many theatre productions but on a couple I’ve been to in the past two years, I was lucky enough to experience touch tours. When I went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in 2017 and Matilda the Musical in 2019, I got to enter the theatre prior to the start of the shows and touch and explore props and sets that will be used in the performance.
These touch tours are specifically for audience members who are blind or visually impaired and want to get a better understanding of what will be on stage. At some touch tours, you also get to meet some of the cast and crew and chat about the shows, even getting a bit of behind the scenes gossip. I felt like a VIP guest!
4. Assistive technology
Having cerebral palsy and registered blind means I heavily rely on assistive technology. When it works, I love it. When it doesn’t work, I hate it. My favourite gadgets have to be my iPad, my Smart TV and my Amazon Alexa.
5. Extra time in exams
When studying at school, college and university, I was entitled to extra time when taking my exams because it took me longer to read with my magnification software and slower to type with one hand.
It didn’t make the exams any easier but I would never secured my qualifications without the extra time.
6. VAT exemption
In some disability-related shops, such as RNIB and Disability Horizons Shop, many products can be sold with VAT exemption to people with a registered disability.
This is because many disability-related products are more expensive than regular products and many disabled people don’t earn as much as others but still require these products to live independently.
7. Free prescriptions and dental treatment
For disable people who claim benefits, they are entitled to free prescriptions and dental treatment. I currently claim Employment and Support Allowance but if I ever lose it or get full-time wages, then I’ll have to start paying. So I’ll enjoy this perk while it lasts.
8. Discount on TV licence
Because I’m registered blind, I get 50% discount on my TV licence, which allows UK residents to watch BBC programmes. Blind people are eligible for this because they only enjoy the audio/dialogue elements rather than the visual elements too.
9. Not witnessing gruesome scenes in TV/films
While watching TV and films, the plus side of being blind is not having to witness gruesome scenes such as a bloody murder or medical procedures on a hospital bed.
10. Carrying bags on my wheelchair
As well as being a useful machine for me to be able to access my home and go out and about, my powered wheelchair is also a great tool for carrying bags.
When shopping, all the shopping bags can hang on the back of my chair – meaning my lazy family and friends can use it as a pack horse.
Thank you Chelsea for inviting me to be a guest blogger.