Concession cards: A way to save money

Concessions on services in transport, and entertainment & leisure are one way for visually impaired people to save money as they offer discounted access to facilities including public transport, live music venues, and cinemas.

In this blog, we outline five concessions available to visually impaired people.

With the current cost of living crisis having an impact on many aspects of daily life, being able to access discounts and concessions has never been more essential.
RNIB recently published a Cost Of Living report, highlighting the ways that blind and partially sighted people are more greatly affected by the cost of living crisis compared to the general population.
The report highlighted many issues including: increased costs in public transport, increased energy bills due to the need for lighting for everyday tasks, and the fact that only one in four working-age blind and partially sighted people are in employment. Read RNIB’s Cost Of Living report

There are a variety of concessions visually impaired people can access in order to reduce costs.
In this blog, we highlight five of these concessions, focusing on transport, and entertainment & leisure. We cover: the blue badge, concessionary travel pass, Disabled Persons Railcard, CEA (Cinema Exhibitor’s Association) Card, and Nimbus Disability Access Card.
All of these concessions can be accessed through an application process and are evidenced by a card that you often need to show to the relevant people as proof you can access the concession.
All of these concessions can be accessed by people with a range of disabilities and health conditions. In this blog, we highlight specifically how a visually impaired person may benefit from each concession.
We hope that the concessions highlighted in this blog go some way to help people with sight loss reduce living costs.


Blue Badge

The Blue Badge enables disabled people to park in disabled parking spaces and other spaces eligible to blue badge holders.
For visually impaired people, this means that a driver of a car can use a blue badge when supporting a visually impaired passenger, or when dropping them off or picking them up.
In England, the cost of a blue badge is £10 and it usually lasts three years.
In certain instances, such as when parking at an “on-street” parking meter or pay-and-display, displaying a blue badge means that you do not have to pay, and can often remove time limits on parking.
If parking with a blue badge, ensure you check the relevant information as it can vary from car park to car park.

Find out more about the Blue Badge Scheme

Travel pass for disabled people

A travel pass for disabled people allows you to travel for free on public transport within your local area.
While the pass is offered as part of the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme, you can only apply for a pass through your local authority or transport provider, depending on where you live.
The rules on how to use the pass vary depending on your local authority or transport provider, so do your research before applying so you know exactly how you can use your pass.
In Greater Manchester, there are two types of pass, and the one you are entitled to depends on your level of sight.
If you are registered sight impaired, you can apply for a Concessionary Travel Pass which gives you free access to buses, trams, and local trains between 9:30 am and midnight on weekdays, and free travel all day on weekends and public holidays. However, if you are registered Severely Sight Impaired, you can apply for a Travel Plus Pass which entitles you to free travel within Greater Manchester 24/7.
Both passes allow you to travel for free on all local buses throughout the UK between 9:30 am and 11:00 pm.
It is free to apply for a pass, and the pass lasts between one and five years depending on your disability.

Find out more about Disabled Travel Passes in Greater Manchester

Disabled Persons Railcard

The Disabled Persons Railcard gives you 1/3 off train tickets when you travel within the UK. Not only do you get 1/3 of for yourself, if you travel with a companion, they get 1/3 off too!
The Disabled Persons Railcard costs £20 for one year or £54 for three years.
You can apply for the card online or by phone, and you have the choice as to whether you have an actual card or a digital paperless card which is stored on the Railcard app on your phone. The Railcard app is available on both iOS and Android.

Find out more about the Disabled Persons Railcard

Entertainment & Leisure

CEA Card

The CEA(Cinema Exhibitor’s Association) Card, developed by the UK Cinema Association, enables disabled people to receive a free complimentary ticket for somebody to go with them when they visit the cinema.
If you are visually impaired, this may be essential, for example to sight guide you within the cinema.
The CEA Card is accepted at many participating cinemas, including the major cinema chains, as well as some independent cinemas.
The CEA Card operates differently depending on the cinema you are booking tickets with, so check their information so you know what their procedures are.
For example, some cinemas will allow you to use the CEA Card to make online bookings (when you enter your CEA Card number during the booking process), while others require you to show your CEA Card in person for it to be accepted.
The CEA Card costs £6 and lasts one year.

Find out more about the CEA Card

Nimbus Disability Access Card

The Nimbus Disability Access Card, formerly known as the CredAble Access Card, is a way to communicate your access needs to select businesses including live events venues, visitor attractions, and high street retailers.
The card features symbols that represent your access needs. These range from the +1 symbol (which in most cases entitles you to a free essential companion ticket for a venue) and a symbol to indicate that you cannot access visual information and need it in alternative formats.
While the access card is used to communicate information about your access needs to businesses, it can also be used in many instances as proof of eligibility for a free companion ticket (as indicated by the +1 symbol), or discounts.
Unlike the other cards listed in this blog, the Nimbus Disability Access Card does not guarantee you access to concessions. Instead, it is a way to communicate access needs and acts as proof of disability, which can then entitle you to concessions, depending on the organisation’s terms and conditions regarding how the Access Card can be used.
The Nimbus Disability Access Card costs £15 and lasts three years.

Find out more about the Nimbus Disability Access Card

Some points of note

While all of these cards and passes give discounts to disabled people, and also help services to become more accessible, there are some caveats:

  • Long waiting times – In some instances, for example when applying for a Blue Badge or Travel Pass, it can take up to six weeks for an application to be processed so there is a long wait between applying and actually receiving what you have applied for.
  • Evidence is required – When applying for these benefits, you are required to provide evidence as proof of eligibility. This can include a relevant benefit entitlement letter (such as a PIP letter) or a medical letter such as a copy of your Certificate of Visual Impairment (CVI). You also need to provide a passport-style photograph, and in the case of the blue badge and travel pass, you also need to provide proof of address.
  • Inaccessible information – Often, while the cards are designed to benefit disabled people, the information on the cards themselves is not accessible. For example, the cards may have a card number and expiry date, however, this information cannot be easily read unless you ask for sighted assistance. At the time of writing, the Disabled Persons Railcard is the only one of the cards listed that offers a digital version that is accessible with either VoiceOver or TalkBack.
  • Different rules – Some of the cards have different terms and conditions for how they can be used depending on how, where and when you use them. For example, when applying for a travel pass, if it is free to use any time in the area where you applied for the pass, it is most likely that you can only use it between 9:30 am and 11:00 pm in other areas. Similarly, different operators may have different policies regarding how a card can be used. For example, some cinema chains allow you to use your CEA Card for online bookings, while others require you to present your card in person.
  • Access is not always guaranteed – While the cards entitle you to access, in some situations this is not always guaranteed, or there may be extra steps needed to gain access. For example, certain live music venues only have a limited number of accessible and/or free companion tickets per show, and venues often require you to register with them individually to be entitled to accessible options. The Nimbus Disability Access Card can be used as evidence to join a venue’s access register.

Having access to concessions is one way to save money as a disabled person, and they also are a way to indicate your access needs to organisations including entertainment venues and transport providers.

We hope that these concessions go some way to help you save money if you have a visual impairment or other disability.

If you would like to know more about concessions you could be entitled to, you can read RNIB’s information about concessions.

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