Silver linings of disabilities...
So I'm one for looking at the positives, perks, silver linings, whatever you want to call them. I find life's better if you focus on the brighter side, don't get me wrong, I can find myself a moody man every now and then. But it's not long before I'm snapped out of it by one of life's positives. I've been a wheelchair user for a while now and I've found my way of life has certain silver linings that able bods don't. Here's a few of the best...
Blue Badge Parking
One of the most obvious and helpful, I mainly use my blue badge to park in disabled bays. Enabling me to park closer and even if the car park looks jammed, there's normally a disabled space free. That's not all they're good for, there maybe some aspects to the blue badge you're unaware off. It can get a bit complicated though. Depending on the local scheme, badge holders are usually allowed to park on single and double yellow lines for up to three hours. Except when there is a ban on loading/unloading. This has saved me searching for parking but also cost me a ticket when parking in the centre of London. So it's always good to check, the same goes for private car parks. I've learnt the costly way that government car parks are normally free for blue badge holders but, most private car parks still charge the same amount. Again, check before you park.
Another driving related perk, being entitled to certain mobility allowances makes you eligible for the motability scheme. This helps disabled people get mobile by exchanging their mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair. In my case, I exchange my mobility component of disability living allowance and lease a wheelchair assessable vehicle. Tax and insurance are covered, along with maintenance and repairs, meaning all I have to do is keep it fuelled, clean and I'm good to go. I honestly don't know what I'd do without it. Well, I'd be reliant on public transport and I'm aware how much of a pain that can be. My vehicle gives me the independence to go where I want, when I want. For those reasons I'm extremely grateful for this scheme and the benefit that covers it.
Carer Goes Free
Pretty self explanatory but defiantly worth a mention. For those like myself who aren't fully independent, this is a valuable positive. Establishments such as cinemas offer essentially two for one to those that need a carer. In fact most tourist attractions will let a carer go free. Most of the time all you need is a letter or blue badge, I've never been asked to provide proof but I have quite a visible disability. Some places offer a discount to the disability ticket itself and charge full price for a carer. This is case of most do but some don't, so worth a quick website check or phone call.
I see this one as societies good morals being a silver lining. I'll join the end of a long queue, I'm not talking super market queues, I mean, round the building queues. It's normally only a couple of minutes before a member of staff comes along and offers an alternative entrance or allows me to bypass the queue. The biggest queue I remember skipping was at the 2012 Paralympics, for McDonald's. Easily over one hundred people, the queue was massive. I hadn't even joined yet, I was trying to find the end, when a member of staff said follow me. I made it clear I wasn't an athlete but it made no difference. We progressed along the queue and even through the queue, right into McDonald's. My head may have been down while I was passing all the people queueing, but you're sure it was up looking at the menu once I was in. I was hungry! I might not play the disability card to skip a queue, but if it's played for me, who am I to refuse.
Shoes Stay Fresh
As a trainer fanatic, this is one of my favourites. I've got a small collection but if I was rich, my trainers would need their own room. It makes me so happy that my shoes don't get worn, being a wheelchair user means they're a few inches above the ground. Away from all the dirt they last so long, the inside gets worn and the outside still looks new. When your favourite trainers are no less than triple figures, this is a massive silver lining.
(Extra bonus) Radar Key
Occasionally this beauty saves me from smelly public toilets. The Radar Key is provided to people with a disability or condition that may require them to use a disabled toilet. Places like shopping centres have disabled toilets but keep them locked to stop able bods using them. This gem is the key that opens the door to, mostly nice smelling toilets. I'm sure you can imagine how this key helps a lot of people. If you're entitled and haven't got one yet I'd defiantly check it out.
So there you go, my five favourite silver linings to living with disabilities. Let us know if you experience these or others on our social media... Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.