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Guest Blog: Disability has some benefits (A Sideways View from Prof. Peter Cooke)

There are a surprising range of benefits available for people with disabilities, and I’m not just talking about monetary awards paid by government or local authorities. Do you take advantage of the special rates and seats for concerts or concessions at art galleries and museums?

Details may take a little research and can be quite complicated – ‘the carer gets in free and you pay full price’ – but that’s still half price. I must admit, I enjoy visiting galleries and have no problem in taking a carer to help me. The major galleries usually have excellent disabled access and facilities. If you have not tried them, I cannot recommend them too highly – look on the websites and see what’s available. It’s surprising how quickly one can develop an appetite for such visits.

The National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate and Tate Modern are brilliant…visit them if you enjoy that sort of event. As a wheelchair user I can get to the front to look at the exhibits and nobody seems too worried.

Concert halls are the same. The Royal Albert Hall is excellent; at first it looks pretty forbidding but there are ramps into the building, spaces reserved for wheelchairs and seats for carers. Symphony Hall in Birmingham has matching facilities – I recommend the spaces upstairs so you can look down on the whole audience as well as the concert.

Maybe we are talking forward planning but I’m quite happy to surrender spontaneity for good access. A little forward planning is a small price to pay. I hope I-drive will over time carry listing or links. (Don’t worry Peter, we are adding to the site all the time so will look at this in the coming weeks and months – just bear with us.)

Even in the age of austerity, disabled concessions are readily available – I’ve not found any that have been stopped and have every intention of continuing to use them in this country and abroad….I hope I’m not the only person.

To add icing to the cake, if you are planning ahead, check if there are any parking concessions available. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Mobility issues are a nuisance but there is a lot of goodwill and assistance available. Use the opportunities; don’t feel you are ‘taking advantage of your affliction’ – government, local authorities and people with vision have put those concessions in place as a small compensation for an affliction – some might even claim it’s being ungrateful not to use them.

What do you think?