PICTURED: CBeebies Land at Alton Towers Resort makes use of Makaton signage in its Something Special Sensory Garden
DAYS out with the kids always need military precision planning – even more so when you have to factor in accessibility.
Newlife, the UK’s leading children’s disability charity, have worked with thousands of families over the last 25 years and have come up with a helpful guide, packed full of hints and tips for parents and carers planning a day out.
The big screen: All cinemas are obliged to make reasonable adjustments that enable you and your disabled child to go to the cinema, but there are other things that can make the experience a bit easier.
The Cinema Exhibitors Association Card (CEA card), available to children over the age of 8, allows a parent or carer a free adult cinema ticket whenever they accompany a disabled child to the cinema. You need to be in receipt of DLA or Attendance Allowance, or be registered blind to be eligible, and there is a small processing cost of £6, but it will certainly be a saver in the long run.
If your child is autistic, Vue, Cineworld, Showcase and Odeon have teamed up with autism charity Dimensions to offer autistic friendly screenings on Sunday mornings.
Adjustments to the cinema include a relaxed environment where people are understanding, lights left on low, sound turned down, no trailers, staff trained in autism awareness, disabled access, chill out zone where available, freedom to move about and sit where you like, ability to bring your own food and drink, free entry for carers, free downloadable social story template.
More information is available from www.dimensions-uk.org
All the fun of the fair: Well, theme park actually, but you know what we mean. Theme parks might feel completely out of bounds for many reasons including cost and lack of facilities. But Merlin, who run theme parks including Alton Towers, Legoland Windsor, Chessington World of Adventures, The London Eye and Madame Tussauds, to name but a few, has its own charity to make it easier for families with disabled children to visit its attractions.
You can apply to Merlin’s Magic Wand for up to five tickets for your child and their immediate family members to have a day out at one of their attractions.
You’re eligible if your child is disabled or has a serious illness and is aged between 2 and 18.
The application needs to be made by a parent/guardian OR an organisation that works with the child. It can take up to 13 weeks to receive your tickets so plan well in advance and exit passes need to be arranged directly with the attraction and not Merlin’s Magic Wand.
Alton Towers Resort also teamed up with an accessibility expert and, following their advice as well as the recommendations of guests, they have installed a modern Changing Place toilet, located in the X Sector, and a Space to Change, located in Fountain Square. The facilities include hoists, changing beds, height adjustable sink and plenty of room for carers.
They have also updated their accessibility guide that is available on line as well as from the box office.
CBeebies Land is great for pre school age children and features the Something Special Sensory Garden that makes uses of Makaton signage throughout.
Trust in the Trust: The National Trust has a wide range of properties, beauty spots and historical sites that are well worth a visit and are great for the whole family.
They also offer free entry for carers where a disabled visitor is paying the normal admission fee.
To save having to ask about this when you arrive, it’s a good idea to apply for their Essential Companion Card which makes it simple for one or two carers to enter free of charge. To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Go wild: Getting out in the great outdoors can be tricky if you need to consider wheelchair accessibility. The Wildlife Trust have listed all of their sites that have wheelchair and buggy accessible paths on their website. Go to www.wildlifetrust.org/accessiblereserves
Using the loo, is it on your Radar?: Many accessible toilets are part of the National Key Scheme so can only be used by people with a Radar key. If you haven’t already got one, you can purchase them for £4.50 from www.disabilityrightsuk.org
General help: www.skybadger.co.uk is a charity-run website that finds help and adventure for disabled children and their families all over the UK.
You can find advice on everything including finances, education, medical, legal, technology and kit as well as local services. They also have a holidays and days out section that has advice for travelling and getting holiday insurance.
You can also apply to Family Fund for a grant towards the cost of days out or a break away for the whole family.
Getting beach buggy ready: There probably aren’t many families who have a beach buggy casually lying around waiting to be used. Fortunately there are councils and tourism boards who hire them out – but tracking them down can be a bit of a chore. We have done all the hard work for you. You can download the Staycation Guide by visiting www.newlifecharity.co.uk and looking under the Care Services section of the Resources and Documents tab.