Having a disability as a young adult couldn’t get any worse, could it?

I had my first seizure at 17. I had a disability . If foaming at the mouth and wetting myself wasn’t embarrassing enough, it happened in school. Past crushes, former bullies and friends watched me slump to the floor shaking: both my parents rushed from work and an ambulance was parked outside the school for nosy students to gawk at. It is an indescribable feeling to lose minutes of your life with control over it and no memory of it at all.

A year later over a zoom call I was diagnosed with epilepsy, I was officially disabled. At 18, I couldn’t drink too much, stay out too late or drive, and I couldn’t even get a shoddy provisional license.

5.8 million of those living with a disability are unable to drive. Not a figure I would guess in a pub quiz. 

So, what should do for all the ‘others’ who can’t drive? A CitizenCard – with its flashy PASS symbol, there’s nothing wrong with it right?

Whilst my friends were flexing their pink cards to those with the crappy green licenses, I was carrying around in my wallet a cheap identification card that looked like something you would play with as a five year old, and that sixteen year olds replicate easily to get into their local.

But to me, it’s not a form of identification or citizenship but rather a form of humiliation. Standing outside bars whilst bouncers coldly reject me. My cheeks flushed red and tears in my eyes. I feel completely robbed of my young adult life.

It’s not even nights out, I had never felt more invisible than when a frumpy branch manager told me I couldn’t have access to my new bank card because “that’s not an ID”. I felt like I didn’t exist.

“But just bring your passport out with you”. 27% of people with a disability are in poverty. Are we expected to fork out £82.50 for a passport just because this flimsy card is redundant? On top of that 25% of people with a disability have difficulty travelling abroad making this idea even more useless.

It is my right to vote. My right to have a say on which political party leads the country. But the sentence on the government’s website “we accept any valid ID with a PASS symbol” stares back at me like a bad nightmare. Because that’s what they all say, that’s what bars, clubs and the bank said. And I was let down every time.

An average of nine children in every secondary school in the UK have epilepsy. They have a right to go out at night, have bank accounts and vote but I know they will experience the disappointment I have. The CitizenCard and the government are stifling their rights and a serious change needs to be made.

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