GUEST POST: Daniel Williams takes a tongue in cheek look at the benefits of being registered blind.
It isn’t all bad – you won’t have initials after your name, but to be registered severely sight impaired (blind) you don’t need to have complete sight loss but will need to meet certain criteria. So, whilst you may be able to see enough to get around in a reasonably upright manner (except after a visit to the pub), if you pass the test, you’re in! Registering is voluntary, confidential and opens up a raft of prizes.
Blind man’s buff
You won’t get a nice T-shirt to wear – although badges are available – but being registered blind is not a tag that pops up on every screen whenever you want to buy something. It pops up on the right screens at the time you most need to see and be seen.
Registration just means that your name and the details of your visual impairment have been officially recorded by your local social services and then the badge of honour is yours. Things are looking up!
Once social services receive your certificate, they’ll make contact with you to come out and have a coffee and assess your needs.
We are a nation that likes to form an orderly queue … until you come along, jumping up front, flourishing your registration card with glee. Whist you’re unlikely to get invited to tea and scones at Buckingham Palace by the Queen, you can go to Alton Towers and skip all the queues – the same applies to Disneyland and quite a few other attractions. You can usually get a free carer ticket to most theatres, cinemas and attractions and that’s when everyone wants to be a blind person’s best friend!
Just flash the card
There is a need for caution. Best avoid zooming up to the front of the queue for Mr Whippy to get your ’99 first. Large one please! Still, there’s often a kind soul who might see all the slobbering and drooling … from you, I mean, not from your guide dog.
Once you are registered blind, you can settle down to enjoy your favourite TV show, even those gory vet programmes they like to show when you’re eating your dinner, with a half price TV licence. Yes, 50% off the fee!
Stay tuned, there are more goodies to come …
If you are employed, it’s always good to hear that you’ll pay less tax – with your new status as registered blind, you will be eligible for the blind person’s tax allowance.
The price is right
If you want to purchase specialist equipment such as a magnifier, it will be exempt from VAT which is great for avoiding tax once again.
Then there is free bus travel – the downside is that it may only be available after the commuter rush hour at 9.30am, but on the upside, this allows you to get a lie-in so you can stay out late at the pub and blame it on the buses or maybe not, as some bus passes stop working at 11pm.
Or why not get a disabled person’s railcard? As a blind person, don’t give in to the urge to get behind the wheel of a car and motor off onto the roads. But if you have a driver who can drive you around, a Blue Badge will come in useful and you can park in most Pay & Display spaces for free.
You can also get help with certain NHS costs and free eye health checks, which are still important so you can keep a regular check on your eyes without worrying about the price. Here’s the link.
Benefits and grants
Registration will help support a claim for financial support for: Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Tax credits, Access to Work, Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA), Attendance Allowance. Click this link to access benefits calculators.
So, what are you waiting for? Simply visit a high street optician or your GP for an initial check-up and referral to an ophthalmologist and remember …always look on the bright side of being registered blind!
Take a look at my sight loss journey video by clicking this link.
All the best, Daniel
Daniel Williams was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 8 and is now improving the lives of others living with sight loss through his business, Visualise Training and Consultancy. He is our keynote speaker at Open Day 2019 in Cardiff.