How to ensure your disabled child has the best possible access to shopping and fun activities

18th February 2020
Dan White Samantha Renke and Simon Blewett

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What can parents can do to ensure that their disabled child has the same kind of access to fun activities – and shopping experiences – as any child? To explore this issue, Pod-Ability host Dan White, himself a parent to disabled daughter Emily, is joined by Samantha Renke, an actress, disability campaigner, columnist and founder of Don’t want our cash as well as Simon Blewett, a disability-access officer whose daughter Daisy is autistic.

Our closed Facebook group offers a safe, private, supportive and understanding space to share issues raised by this episode with like-minded parents and families of children with special educational needs and disabilites.

Dan White Sam Renke and Simon Blewitt Variety Pod-Ability

Key recommendations for parents and families from this episode's discussion

  • Under the Equality Act 2010, it's possible to take service providers to task if they aren’t providing reasonable levels of accessibility.
  • When you go to a theme park or cinema, take a copy of a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or carer’s allowance letter as proof of your child’s disability – you may get asked for it.
  • Keep a camp bed in your car so your child doesn't end up lying on the dirty floor of an inaccessible toilet when they need to be changed.
  • Use the map on the Changing Places website to find out where the nearest accessible toilet is. 
  • Carry a fold-up ramp with you, in case a venue’s idea of accessibility doesn’t match your expectations.
  • Get yourself a copy of The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain.
  • Use the AccessAble website or app to search for accessible places to go to such as restaurants, hotels, cinemas, and universities and find detailed reviews of the level of accessibility of each place.
  • Larger chains will generally have an accessible bathroom and many are willing to let you use it even if you’re not a customer. Don’t be afraid to ask – just be bold.
  • For information about the accessibility levels of venues you’re going to, check the website or call ahead. 
  • In case you can’t get your (female) child to an accessible toilet, carry a Shewee around, which is a discreet female urination device she can use while seated in a wheelchair. A catheter bag can also be attached to it.
  • Some banks provide a contactless payment wristband. This allows children with dexterity issues to make purchases on their own, giving them a sense of autonomy and independence. 
  • Take advantage of the CEA card scheme, developed by the Cinema Association, which will give the carer accompanying a disabled child access to free cinema tickets.
The Pod-Ability signature music track is by Sonic Boom Six. Many thanks for their kind generosity.