I thought it would be useful if I posted a list of everything that you can apply for if you are blind or partially sighted. This would have definitely helped a year ago as I had no clue where to start!
- In the UK there are some benefits that you can apply for, I don’t know if this is the same in other countries but here we have ‘DLA’ (Disability Living Allowance) which is now being changed to ‘PIP’ (Personal Independence Payment). You have to fill out quite a hefty form stating your needs, what you can and can’t do and what your mobility is like. You get assessed by a medical professional, which can involve a home visit and you will get money deemed appropriate to your disability.
- A Blue Badge you only get this if you are registered blind as mobility is more difficult. The Blue Badge goes in the windscreen faced outward enabling you to park in a disabled car parking bay. The badge also allows you to park on double yellows for the 3 hours if you set the time you arrived on a separate card that you get with your badge and also put this in the windscreen. The badge also helps carers/parents/partners to pick you up from any destination as they can show it in their car and you can jump right in! You have to renew the badge every three years.
- ceacard.co.uk if you go onto this website follow the steps to order yourself a cinema card if you are registered blind. It’s £6.00 for a yearly membership and then you have to reapply after that year. The card gives any carer free access into the film of your choice, so this saves a lot of money! For more details read the website as I think it’s only in certain cinemas but most accept the card.
- The Certification of Visual Impairment (CVI) this helps a lot when dealing with matters such as help with health costs. This is a certificate that proves you are visually impaired/blind. It enables you to access services in the eye hospital you attend. If you want to know more about it on a personal level I would ask your GP as everyone has different conditions and will be entitled to different things when being certified with this certificate. I found a short clip to elaborate a little on it for you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk0sFBtKNf8&feature=youtu.be
- Trains and buses: If you are blind or partially sighted in the UK you can get a Centro card that allows you on buses for free and on the card it states when it expires. Centro are very good as this pass also enables you to get free train travel in the local area you live in but it doesn’t work after a certain point. Depending on where you live you will have to check out where this pass takes you up to on the train line. If you look at the Centro website they do many mobility aids to get you on the bus including: A bright yellow flip chart that has 3 sections to it so you can change the cards to the relevant bus number you want to catch and hold it up to the road so the bus driver knows to stop for you. I can’t quite remember the other mobility aids but they do a lot more so just look at their website. You can order a magazine by Centro which has lots of information on where buses stop and their other services, I really recommend this as I found it quite useful. In terms of going on the train outside of your local area I recommend getting a disabled railcard by National Rail. You pay £20 a year to get you and your carer off peak tickets at all times and a third off the ticket cost. On the trains they also operate a service around my area (don’t know if they do it anywhere else but maybe look out for it?) where you can ring and a member of the train crew from the train station you are getting off at can meet you off a train and take you to your next train if needed for free.
- If you are registered blind you can get a half price TV license!
- At Drayton Manor you can get a pass (if you show your proof of disability on the door) that enables you to get yourself and four friends fast passes on 10 rides. So be prepared to skip all the queues, it is very fun! I have only used this at Drayton Manor personally but I think Alton Towers do it as well however you will have to check this as I get a bit sick on rollercoasters hehe!
- As I have said in previous videos Barclays offer a great service for the blind and visually impaired with their talking cash machines that are out now. They also offer a high visibility card. At all banks you can also get braille and audio bank statements posted to you.
- School and universities: At school you can get a Statement of Educational Needs (SEN) which helps your school cater for your needs in order for you to achieve the same as a fully abled person. As I got mine a long time ago and have nearly finished school I didn’t fill out any forms my mum just did this for me but this really helped me get through school and the statement changed with me when my needs got higher. As far as university goes I haven’t got there yet but I know that you can get grants for equipment as well as a grant for a teaching assistant if needed but I’m sure I will add to this and let you know when I get there!
I hope this blog post helped as it can be very overwhelming when you first lose your sight. Having these services in place really helps you get by! If I remember anything else I will add to this post.