My failing eyesight resulted in me having to give up driving. For a while, I got around on my electric bike but when recent eye surgery temporarily prevented me from being able to cycle, I was forced to re-think my transportation plans again. Walking was out because my heart condition makes me breathless during exercise, which means I can’t walk confidently or far, even on flat surfaces.
With my travel options shrinking fast, I faced the risk of losing my independence and being confined to my home unless I could find a solution.
That’s when I decided to get a blue badge. Friends would be able give me lifts and park close to my destination provided they displayed my badge in their car.
I got help to fill in the raft of questions online (the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has a useful guide) but problems started as soon as I corresponded with the Camden Accessible Travel Solutions team.
They required me to upload supporting medical explanations onto the online application portal but by this time I was wearing an eye-patch and found it difficult to trawl through my voluminous medical records to seek out references to my vision and mobility problems.
Problems started as soon as I corresponded with the Camden Accessible Travel Solutions team.
In addition, I was unsure what exactly the team wanted by way of evidence. I suggested that a reasonable adjustment, as required under the Equalities Act of 2010, would be for a council officer to visit my house and photograph my relevant records on their phone.
To minimise the risk of a rebuttal, I pointed out that another department had sent officers to my home to interview me on a separate matter and I even sent them a photo of me wearing my eye patch!
The team refused to authorise the home visit, but said I could send the documents by post instead of uploading them online. I would call this an unreasonable adjustment. It didn’t help me overcome my inability to read the documents or identify which ones were needed for the application.
So far, the team has failed to give a reason for this refusal and ignored four requests for the name and email address of its overall team manager.
And yet there are so many reasons why I cannot comply with their demands! For one thing, my ability to use the internet is not good and almost impossible with my present eye condition.
For another, my eye hospital doesn’t provide evidential letters for people with low vision and furthermore my GP surgery is not currently booking routine appointments, which means I can’t get a letter from them.
This is yet another prime example of how society makes me disabled.
I conveyed all of this information to the team and I pointed out that if my cardiology consultant commented on my mobility it would only be what I told him I could do.
To no avail.
This is yet another prime example of how society makes me disabled. I now have very limited ability to leave my house, unless I’m going short distances.
The costly alternative to getting lifts from friends and parking using a blue badge is to pay for taxis. Last week alone I spent over £100 on taxi rides to and from hospitals.
This is by no means the first time that Camden officers have made judgements on what I can and cannot do. Is my experience unique? Why are officers allowed to disable us? Why are they not supervised? Why do not councillors intervene? Or is this the Council’s approved policies and practices to disability.
This is by no means the first time that Camden officers have made judgements on what I can and cannot do.
I was finally given the contact details of the overall head of the Camden Accessible Travel Solutions team yesterday (24.7.23) and will waste no time in writing to them.