Benefits and discounts
Volunteer Alison has been gathering information with help from you all on Teams. Here are her findings:
A couple of years ago my adult son got his first hearing aid – our hearing loss is totally unrelated, but I tried to help him get as much from the experience of having hearing loss as possible. To this end I suggested he get a disabled railcard and ask in as many places as he could about discounts available. He now gets a discount on his gym membership and one on his football season ticket! Neither of these things appealed to me but it did make me question how much I knew about the benefits available.
I asked on Teams and got lots of responses – thank you!
Brown or Yellow booklet
When you receive your NHS hearing aids you are given a battery book to show you are entitled to replacement batteries. In England this book is brown and in Scotland it is yellow.
“We don’t use the book system for batteries you can email them and they will be sent out.”James, Northern Ireland
Travelling by Bus
Disabled bus passes are available if your hearing is at a certain level. In Scotland, for example, this is the case if your hearing averages 70dB in both ears and, May Wood told us that she used her yellow book as proof of hearing loss to get her bus pass.
Travelling by Rail
You can also use your battery book to apply for a railcard. Once you have this it can be used to apply for disabled access to venues such as theatres and cinemas.
You can book assistance 24-hours a day by contacting Passenger Assist on freephone 0800 0223720. The Train company you are travelling with can arrange for someone to meet you at the station entrance or meeting point.
Travelling by Air
James Kemp is working on a piece about airport assistance which will follow in due course. See below for further information regarding the sunflower lanyard.
Travelling by Car
Emma uses text relay to contact RAC her breakdown cover, which she gets with her car insurance. She told me that she couldn’t get her car started and contacted them via text relay and that was fine. No issues, no sitting waiting for text relay to be explained so she’s assuming they knew about it. Not all companies do. Emma had to wait quite a while but they text me pretty much every half an hour and when the guy was 10 mins away, he texted which was great. The only issue was that the mechanic was talking with his back to Emma, he did something with the car and she did not know what. So getting further information when he was there was hard. Good combination until it came to actually speaking face-to-face.
Sylvia and I agree that it’s always worth declaring your hearing loss if you think there’s a chance of a discount – wearing a sunflower lanyard helps as now most places know that signifies a hidden disability.
A symbol for non-visible disabilities (hiddendisabilitiesstore.com)
Cinema and Theatre
“My experience of benefits around accessing the arts is that it depends on the venue or the event. The Edinburgh International Festival began a new Access Pass system in 2022, which acknowledges that people with hearing loss, who do not use BSL, have access needs too. I’d recommend people joining the Access Pass system if they plan on going to events in the Festival.Ann, Scotland
Find out more information here: https://www.eif.co.uk/access
The Edinburgh Fringe has a separate set up but it’s worth checking that out too. More info at: https://www.edfringe.com/experience/how-to-plan/access-at-the-fringe
I use my railcard to apply for discounts at the Theatre – Stagetext performances are always discounted and a carer may come free or at a much reduced rate.
Sylvia concurs adding.
The only thing to bear in mind is that some theatres, do own in house captioning and therefore it won’t come up on Stagetext listings. If there’s something coming up that I’d like to see with captions then, I do some online research/email to theatre to check whether there will be any captioned performances.Sylvia, England
- For further information please check out their website Stagetext
- For theatre in Scotland have a look at Accessible Scottish Theatre: Access Scottish Theatre – Search for accessible events in venues across Scotland
James Kemp said that in Northern Ireland they do have a pass for the cinema, but there are not many showings there.
The Society of London Theatre
The Society of London Theatre run a number of different Access Schemes for audience members with disabilities. Visiting their website will give you specific booking lines for disabled access, which are often priced at discounted rates. Some theatres allow a carer to see the performance for free, making London theatres accessible for everyone. Shows often hold special matinees or performances for people with learning disabilities, as well as specific audio described performances, often at a discounted rate. Check out the Access section of SOLT’s website to download the up-to-date information: http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/access/
The CEA Card is a national card scheme developed for UK cinemas by the UK Cinema Association (UKCA).
The Card enables a disabled cinema guest to receive a complimentary ticket for someone to go with them when they visit a participating cinema.
The Card is also one way for cinemas to make sure they look after their disabled guests. If you require an adjustment to visit a cinema because of your disability, cinema staff should make them for you whether you have a CEA Card or not.
The Card is developed by UKCA’s Disability Working Group, whose members include film exhibitors and distributors, and national disability charities such as RNID, RNIB, Dimensions and Whizz Kidz.
If you have questions about the card and how it works read the Frequently Asked Questions/
Sylvia uses the card regularly and has the following advice:
Write to the organisation – do not apply online – make sure you get the right department, include your reason for applying – eg: in order to go to the cinema you need to be accompanied in the event of anything untoward happening which you won’t hear plus the fact that public transport may well be involved to travel to a cinema with a captioned screening. She also suggests you attach a letter from your doctor or audiologist confirming your hearing loss – and don’t take no for an answer!Sylvia
Your Local Cinema produce a weekly newsletter which shows the time and date of subtitled screenings near you – www.yourlocalcinema.com. On this site you can also search for screenings in another location.
Charles reminded me that equipment to help with your hearing loss (TV listeners etc if you wish to buy them) may well come with a VAT exemption – companies like Connevans will help with this. You can also get discounted items on the Hearing Dogs Online Shop – shop.hearingdogs.org.uk/technology
Other sources of advice
Other organisations which may help include RNID, NADP, your local fire brigade (to fit flashing alarms etc) and local sensory services departments.
I hope this has given you a flavour of the kind of communication we can have over Teams and it would be great to have everyone involved. So please post any other information you have on this topic on the HLS Volunteers’ Teams page. If you are not yet confident to do this, please get in touch and I will talk you through it.