The Cost of Disabled Living By Maya Haynes
The cost of Disabled Living
The cost of daily living is undoubtedly a huge expense incurred during the average person’s lifetime, however, for those individuals living with physical and/or learning disabilities, the challenges and costs of everyday living can far exceed those of an able-bodied person. As a student living with severely impaired vision, I realise that others may not be able to fully comprehend these additional living costs. This blog will focus on the difficulties faced by disabled people due to the costs which they incur during their everyday lives and what the answer may be to reducing these costs.
As a full time student, luckily I receive support from the Disabled Students’ Allowance Scheme set up by Student Finance England. This pays for specialist equipment such as a magnifier which allows me to read and also write (it has a small camera installed on a flip-up point which allows the user to write underneath). I was also supplied with a Dictaphone and microphone and speakers, along with the technology which I would need for my course. However, without the help of the DSA, I would have been paying around £3,000 for this specialist support. This got me thinking about how much more people with physical disabilities, for example, those people who use a lot of additional computer hardware (adapted keyboards, tracker balls, switches), must end up paying for their expenses if they are not given support from various charitable organisations.
Aware of the Increase
I never really became aware of just how much even minor pieces of equipment make to my life – and my bank balance! For example, in order to adapt my accommodation so that I could see sharp edges etc., I needed to purchase a bright orange tape called Day-Glo orange tape from the RNIB website, costing around £10 when I purchased it but now down to £4.30. Even though this does not sound like a lot, the amplified cost of disabled living all adds up. The cost of a long cane, for example, ranges from £10-£49.99. Children’s canes are about £13.50, so still expensive. I have also noticed that equipment such as screen-reading software costs hundreds sometimes even thousands of pounds and this extra cost sometimes seems unfair in these cases, given that without the disability, the person would not be disadvantaged by incurring the extra cost in the first place.
DSA, DLA and PIP
Whilst Disabled Students’ Allowance and Disabled Living Allowance are brilliant for helping with the extra costs incurred by disabled people at present, the system is changing. A few months ago, it was reported that there are severe cuts being made to Disabled Students’ Allowance which will severely impact on students’ ability to study – I have been lucky as I have been a student before these cuts are put into place. Disabled Living Allowance helps many people in their everyday lives, however, with the introduction of Personal Independence Payments, many people are losing the money which they rely on to pay for extra travel costs or equipment, further raising the cost of living with a disability. With the system changing, it seems that all we can do is sit and wait and see how these decisions affect disabled people across the UK – in some instances we have already seen the devastating impact that these cuts can have on people’s lives – in some cases literally.
The question that we will all be asking now is: where do we go from here:? The answer is simple – the Government has a responsibility to disabled people to ensure that through their PIP scheme, their needs are met successfully. However, there will still be those with disabilities who slip through the net and contact charities for equipment and support, putting strain on charities’ resources. Those who do not know where to turn or who are not able to ask for that help without the help of someone else will find it increasingly difficult to access support, therefore incurring even further cost as a direct result of their life circumstance. It is not about less people using the equipment and so understanding that the cost of it is going to be considerably higher – it is about the impact that the equipment and services have on disabled people’s lives and how the Government and we can work to lower the cost of living for disabled people across the UK.
What do you think about the cost of living for disabled people? How can it be improved? Tell us about your experiences.
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