Blue Dots and Self-ID - or, why we aren't asking for written proof of disability
9 August 2022
by Amy Marshall and Rosemary Warner
On Blue Dots and Self-ID - or, why we aren't asking for written proof of disability:
There are some companies who make cards to prove your disability, e.g. Access Card. These typically request proof of receipt of PIP / DLA (Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance). The government when changing from DLA to PIP said the changes would provide more help to those who need it most, essentially by no longer giving payments to lots who previously qualified.
There are two major problems with this: the first is that benefits assessments are not fit for purpose and often deny the money to people who do meet the criteria- because they are being run by people whose targets are to pay out as little money as they can get away with. Not only does this directly deny these benefits to some who need them, it also means that others choose never to apply because they would rather go without the extra money than put themselves through the considerable stress of undergoing the hostile assessment process.
The second problem is that the criteria for qualifying for PIP/DLA are quite harsh. If you can walk 200 metres, you do not qualify for the Moving Around mobility component of PIP. We have a lot of members who can do this but cannot stand in queues for extended periods of time and so need a blue dot.
Some companies will accept recent medical evidence of disability. However, hospital clinic letters often do not include that type of information, and GPs generally will not write letters confirming if someone has a disability or not. Having a medical diagnosis is not the same as having a disability; you can have one without the other (both ways around!). And GPs are far too busy dealing with the backlog of patients with medical symptoms to spend time on administrative tasks like letters especially as many disabilities can't be assessed in a 10-minute appointment.
As event organisers we have a legal and moral duty to provide reasonable adjustments to enable those with disabilities to attend and participate in our event. We would not be correct to deny adjustments to those who don't receive benefits / don't have “proof of disability”.
You can get a blue dot for many reasons that may not be included in legal definitions of disability. For example, someone who needs to use the loop system with their hearing aid so will need to sit in the area it covers. A hearing aid alone may not qualify someone for PIP/DLA. Members who have mental health issues with being crowded into the middle of a room or might need to use the toilet suddenly qualify for a blue dot so they can sit near the door- and, again, may well not have any formal proof of this.
A member might have a reason they need a blue dot at this convention without being long term disabled, for example recent surgery, injury or illness.
Finally, an international event such as DWCon has to consider our members not from the UK- who may not have equivalent proof available in their countries of residence and even if they do, it may not be in a language that ConCom can understand!
Places such as theme parks can ask for proof of benefit as they are often giving free admission to a carer. You can still attend a theme park e.g. in a wheelchair without proof of disability and not request a free carers ticket. The theme park would be wrong to refuse access to the ramps that are an alternative to the steps- and we would be wrong to refuse a blue dot to any member who needed one.