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  • Driving with a Health Condition or Disability: The Rules Many people find that being able to drive offers them independence and freedom, and these can be especially important factors for disabled people. However, there are some health conditions and impairments prevent people from having a driving licence so, before you start getting excited and booking driving lessons, it's worth checking whether or not you will face limitations. The first thing to know is that, if you already drive and your doctor tells you you should stop driving, you must immediately send your licence back to DVLA for them to consider your situation. This is called 'surrendering your driving licence' and you can download the form and the information you need on this government webpage. When DVLA have assessed your suitability to drive, they will then return your licence if appropriate. There is also a long list of medical conditions that disabled and unwell people should be aware of. It is far too lengthy to reproduce here but it includes everything from Acoustic Neuroma to Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. Look through this list and, if you have any of the conditions listed, follow the instructions. For some, like depression or strokes, you may need to inform the DVLA whereas for others, like labyrinthitis and narcolepsy, you are obliged to contact them, by law. It sounds complicated, and maybe a bit overwhelming, but it is really important that you don't drive if you're unsure whether you're well enough to. Not only do you risk prosecution or fines, you could also put yourself or others in danger. If your condition is not listed but you have any concerns, check with your doctor or with the DVLA and they will advise you. If everybody is happy that you are safe to learn to drive, then it's time to get enthusiastic and start planning! The next step is to work out whether you would need your car to have any adaptations to help you to drive. Check out our next blog post in this series - to be published on Monday - about cars and adaptations for disabled drivers. Read More...

  • Disabled and Learning to Drive? What You Need to Know Learning to drive can be both scary and exciting. A growing sense of freedom ("I can go anywhere!") can combine with a huge sense of responsibility ("I'm in charge of this massive metal machine!"), and anxieties about learning a new skill can also surface, seemingly out of nowhere. For a disabled person, there might be extra things to take into account, Does your illness, impairment or medication mean you can't drive? Do you need a specially adapted car? Will your driving instructor understand your needs? Over the next few days, we will answer all these questions for you on this blog. There are organisations and people who have specialised knowledge and advice in these areas and we will link to the best information on the web. It will include: details of how to find out if you have a health conditions that means you're not allowed to drive an interview with a professional driving instructor who works with disabled learners information on adapted cars: how to find out if you qualify for one, if you need one, and how to get one. As always, we are available on Twitter and Facebook and we will always try to answer any questions and help when we can! Read More...

  • How to Leave Us a Review! We love hearing from our customers, especially when they tell us how happy they are with our products! That's because we really do want you to enjoy the things you get from us, and when we find out what you like it helps us to do better. And, let's be honest, it's also because it cheers up our day when you love your wallet or your wheat warmer. That's why we make them! One thing that's brilliant is when a review shows us that you really get what we're doing and why we're doing it. Nathalie on Facebook said, "Its little things that can make big changes. I don't like that everything disability, assisting device for any medical situation etc seem to be near all plain, boring, generic & all with fairly medical/corporate look & feel... I first found The Blue Badge Company via a Naidex show. I got a great cover this year as I had to renew my Blue Badge &, due to change in them, a new case is suggested. I was straight away picking a new & different design, its hard - so many to fall in love with & a great price & lovely company! I'm thinking I might treat myself to another one... Maybe like with your clothes you can express yourself a few ways!" And Saskia, who bought our Cordovan Creek leather wallet, said, "I have to say it's gorgeous! I have bought a blue badge holder from the Blue Badge Company before and it lasted a good few years. My last one wasn't leather but it was still fab. It looked great, it was wipeable and easy to clean and it's still going strong. I fancied a new one for my birthday though and thought I would treat myself to a new leather one. They are obviously more expensive than the material ones, but I would say it's definitely worth the money! I must also say that the service is excellent. The staff are extremely helpful and always go that extra mile to help. I'm one very happy customer!" (Also, check out Saskia's fabulous 'Mug and Nominate' photo for FMA UK - and our photo, too!) The other great thing about reviews is that it helps other people to know that we are trustworthy and that our products really are making people happy; other people who are deciding what to buy can feel reassured that they will get wallets and warmers that are great quality. So, how can you leave us a review? There are two main ways: If you have a Google account (e.g. a Gmail address or a YouTube account), you can click here and give us a star rating and leave a comment; If you'd prefer to leave a review on our Facebook Page, you can do that here.   So, if you fancy letting us know what you think of your order, don't be shy. We'd love to hear from you!   (Photo credit: Christmas stock images) Read More...

  • Disabled Students: Your Guide to Navigating and Accessing Higher Education Freshers’ week is over and, now that classes are starting and the nights are drawing in, new University students are getting into the swing of their new lives. Starting university is a time that can be simultaneously exciting and terrifying. Concerns about making new friends, money and succeeding academically are matched by the enjoyment of discovering a new town or city, going out whenever you please, and taking an important step towards independence. For disabled students, there is more to consider. On top of the usual concerns that all students have, disabled students may be anxious about whether they will get the support they need to complete their studies, how accessible their new home and campus will be, and whether they will experience stigma or discrimination. On Twitter, I asked current and former disabled students what advice they would give to a new disabled student, embarking on a university course this year. Here is some of what they said: @PhilippaWrites @Amazonnewsmedia encourage to seek out other disabled as a support who are more advanced in course — amules days (@AmulesDays) September 25, 2014 @AmulesDays @PhilippaWrites good idea. The company/eye view/ even proximity of other disabled people is useful/informative/encouraging — ANM (@Amazonnewsmedia) September 25, 2014 @PhilippaWrites I'd say do LOADS of research about the help you're entitled to before you go and expect to have to fight for support... — Diane Shipley (@dianeshipley) September 25, 2014 @PhilippaWrites ...at every turn, but know your rights and be a nuisance if you have to be! — Diane Shipley (@dianeshipley) September 25, 2014 @incurablehippie something that I've found this week is that although the buildings on campus are accessible, campus itself is really not — BUCKET OF ENTRAILS (@TheeJenneger) September 25, 2014 @incurablehippie so I guess my advice would be to ensure you leave plenty of time to get between buildings. — BUCKET OF ENTRAILS (@TheeJenneger) September 25, 2014 @incurablehippie also, take full advantage of all support offered by the Students union for disabled students. At SHU there is loads :) — BUCKET OF ENTRAILS (@TheeJenneger) September 25, 2014 So, what help and support is available for disabled students? And what rights do you have? We’re going to address some of these questions now. Should I tell my Uni that I’m disabled? Most universities now have services specifically for students who are disabled, dyslexic, or who have mental health problems. Registering with these services is a crucial step towards getting the support you may need. They have access to resources and they also know what help is available, so they may even be able to suggest things you haven’t thought of. What support is available? This varies a lot, depending on the resources and expertise available, an individual person’s health condition or impairment, and the subject somebody is studying (for example, an art student would need different support to an engineering student). However, the support you are offered could include specialist equipment, extra time in exams, a support worker to take notes during classes, or occasional leeway with deadlines. What about financial support for disabled students? Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) has been in the news recently, after plans to cut it were announced and later delayed. DSA is an important benefit because being disabled is so expensive, and because it provides equipment and assistance that can make the difference between a disabled student succeeding or failing. In fact, research has shown that disabled students with support from DSA are more likely to achieve a first-class honours degree. DSA can be used to fund: special equipment such as laptops, speech recognition software or voice recorders people to take notes on lectures, scribe for students or proofread students’ work, called ‘non-medical helpers’ travel expenses. This video explains how it works: DSA does not need to be paid back, and the earlier you apply, the better. For more detailed information about your own situation and your particular University, try to find the department that's dedicated to supporting and empowering disabled students (your students' union should know). Circumstances differ, but you have the right to reasonable accommodations and to not experience disablist discrimination. Royal Holloway University has produced an information booklet for disabled students, full of useful facts and advice, which is a good place to start. How are you getting on as a disabled student at University? Let us know on Twitter or on our Facebook Page! Follow or ‘like’ us, too, to make sure you don’t miss any future blog posts we write! (Image credits: Bruno Girin and Xbxg32000) Read More...

  • Essential Smartphone Apps for Disabled People 61% of Brits have a smartphone, and 91% of us always have our phone within arm's reach, so it's no surprise really that some of the most innovative and useful tech inventions in recent years have been smartphone and tablet apps. This has certainly been reflected in the surge in the number of apps available for disabled people to help to track, manage and take control of many different areas of our lives. So, in this post, we're going to look at some popular apps that you will definitely want to know about! Apps to remind you to take your meds If you take a range of medication, or if you have problems with your memory, it can be really difficult to be sure you've taken your pills every day. If you need to take different meds at specific times of day, it can get even more confusing. Thankfully, there are a range of smartphone apps that can help by alerting you when it is time to take your medication and you can relax, knowing that you won't forget to take those all-important medicines. Pillboxie is an iPhone and iPad app that makes it easy to manage your medication schedule (cost: $0.99). MediSafe Meds & Pill Reminder is a similar app available for Android devices (free). Track and monitor your pain levels with Catch My Pain Catch My Pain is an app that allows users to make a note of their pain levels and keep track of which parts of the body hurt, and how intense the pain is. By marking up a human body with a colour that corresponds to the degree of pain and noting what the pain feels like, users can create an ongoing record that helps you to monitor whether things are improving or getting worse, and this can be shared with doctors if appropriate. Catch My Pain is available for free for Android and iOS devices. Hearing aid apps for smartphones Hearing aid apps, combined with earphones or bluetooth headsets, allow people to use their phone to amplify the sounds around them. Hearing Aid with Replay for Android (free and paid versions). soundAMP Lite for iOS devices (69p). Use Mood Panda to track your moods Mood Panda is an interactive mood diary where users can make a note of their mood and keep track of any patterns that occur. The app produces graphs and calendars to give you an immediate glimpse into the state of your moods over time, and you can keep your records secret or share them on social media. Mood Panda is a free app available for Android and iOS devices. MobileSign: a British sign language app MobileSign contains over 4,000 searchable signs that can be used to help people to learn BSL or to communicate with Deaf friends and colleagues. It is a free app available for Android and Apple devices. The same developers have also created Deafworkmate, which is an introduction "to Deaf Culture, British Sign Language (BSL) and other forms of non-verbal communication. If you work alongside deaf people, employ deaf people or have deaf customers then Deafworkmate is an ideal learning resource for you". Diabetes UK tracker app The Diabetes UK charity's tracker app "is designed to be quick and simple to use, taking the daily chore out of logging levels such as blood glucose, carbohydrates and calories". The information you provide over time is then translated into charts and graphs so you can keep an eye on your blood glucose, insulin, carbohydrate, calorie, weight and ketone measurements. The Diabetes UK Tracker App is a free app for people with iOS and Android devices. If you've got a smartphone, it is well worth looking out for apps that are relevant to your condition or your lifestyle. We need to embrace things that make life easier so that we can expend our energy on things that are more productive and fun! Do you use any smartphone apps? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Read More...