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Essential but inaccessible

Charlotte, one of our accessible communications volunteers, has penned a blog about her experience of renewing her entitlement card.


I discovered it purely by chance. I have returned to swimming, and remembering I had a card identifying me as officially decrepit, I was rummaging to find it. It was well worth finding. The card meant that we only had to pay one entrance fee as long as I turned up at the pool with a companion. A system ensuring visually impaired people like me don’t blunder into someone else’s cubicle. I have done that, but that’s very much another story.


Amazing, what can be stashed in one wee purse. Long defunct raffle tickets; proof of postage slips referring to last year’s Christmas boxes. And, then! Something labelled as an Entitlement Card.


Before continuing, I must clarify things. I wasn’t zapping every piece of paper with one of those apps that either describes or reads whatever has been placed before it. I was doing this the old-fashioned way, handing over each item to my husband for identification.


“That’s odd! Is this your Bus Pass?”

“Nae idea. Describe it.”

“Looks a bit like a Bus Pass but it’s called Entitlement Card and, good God! . . .It has a date on it. Expired in 2022!”

“Well, I haven’t been on a bus since lock down. Nor a train.”

“Never mind that. Why’s it got a date anyway? Mine hasn’t.”


I phoned the Council and was transferred to a pleasant person who booked me into my local Library so I could enjoy the palaver of renewing my oh so out of date card. Just as well our town still has a Library. Just as well it’s only down the street.


“Now, you must take proof of disability along with you,” explained the pleasant person.

“Well, to get there in the first place, I’ll need the assistance of my Guide Dog. Surely that’s proof?”


Apparently, the presence of Lady Hound wouldn’t be enough. I would need various documents. Plus, a photo. More work for sighted husband; digging around in the filing cabinet.


Suitably prepared, several days later, just after our swim, I ambled into our Library, accompanied by Lady Hound. And yes, she wasn’t accepted as proof I was visually impaired. Instead, I had to hand over various bits; certificate from Social Work; a letter from Social Security Scotland.


“Since I cannot see, I couldn’t read that date,” I grovelled. “And, anyway, why does it have a date? My husband’s card doesn’t.”


For all I know, the assistant gave me a pitying stare  before explaining my card required an expiry date because I have a disability.


Eh! Whit! Does the Scottish government believe in miracles. Not only is this plain daft, the information is in tiny letters and because of the way these cards are used, cannot be in braille. If you don’t have a smart phone with the correct apps, and live alone, how do you know when to replace the card?


There was yet  another awkwardness. My photo was rejected. Instead, I had to have a special photo taken then and there. Glowering, with hair dripping around face and neck. So very, very elegant!


However, all has been completed. The new card quickly arrived and is now safely stowed in the back of my purse. Its expirey date totally inaccessible.


What about the other card? The one for the pool? Total dawdle. All I had to do was give the woman at th einformation desk my name, date of birth and address. All of which she typed into the pool’s computer. Wheech! That was it! No need for bits of paper; no need for a photo. And, now, no need for that card. If I want a swim, I just appear, with suitable companion.


Why cannot everything be so simple?

Image of Paul Hanlon
Written by: Paul Hanlon

Posted on the: June 19, 2024
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