Shop Blog

Mask exemption card proved essential for thousands of disabled people

Having launched the Disability Horizons Shop at the end of last year, we never expected to be able to help so many disabled people so quickly, enabling us to grow and offer paid work to disabled people too.

As many Disability Horizons readers will know, back in 2011, we launched with the aim of making the world more inclusive and helping disabled people to live the life they choose.

Over the years we have seen how great products and services can make a real difference to disabled people’s lives. But they need to be the right products – innovative, stylish and truly valuable.

So we decided that there was a real need for a shop selling a curated range of disability products, all from trusted suppliers sourced by recommendations from our community and from companies we have worked with.

We started small, with our shop manager Duncan – who is a married father of two, one of whom is disabled – working largely on his own. But, as is the case for many people and businesses, 2020 has had an unexpected impact.

Duncan with his wife Clare and two sons
Duncan with his family

With the frequent changes in face mask rules, and many disabled people concerned about what to do if they were exempt, we decided to create a face mask exemption card.

Duncan explained: “I noticed that people were printing their own cards to use on the bus. The quality was not good and the cards did not last long.

Some people were also getting hostility towards them for not wearing a mask. We, therefore, decided to produce a long-lasting, mask exemption card, made from recycled materials and attached to a lanyard or badge clip.

It is a durable, portable pass that you can wear around your neck, or pinned to your coat while travelling or in shops, and is instantly visible.”

Image is a still from the ITV news segment about Mask Exemption ID cards. The image shows Joe Edwards in a wheelchair, wearing a red lanyard with white text which reads "MASK EXEMPT"The bright red lanyard has ‘MASK EXEMPT’ written in white capital letters so it is easy to see. The credit card-sized ID badge further explains your mask exemption as being due to a ‘disability/health condition’. Both can be shown and read at a safe distance.

Face mask exemption card

Duncan continued: “We sold 100 the first day we advertised them, which doubled to 200 the next day. Sales have continued to soar with many disabled people fearful of what the new rules meant for them if they couldn’t wear a mask, now over 40,000 have been sold.

We hoped the cards would help people, but we never expected them to do so well. I had to suddenly go from sending items each week from my home and running all customer service enquires through my landline to having to outsource very quickly to keep up with the demand.

Not everything went as smoothly as we would have linked to start with, but the entire Disability Horizons team – many of whom are volunteers – is dedicated to helping disabled people, so everyone worked hard to serve our customers.

We’re now ready for more demand and are starting to be able to offer paid positions and work, which was another one of our ambitions when we first collaborated.”

Image is a photograph of Joe Edwards' wearing the Mask Exempt ID card with text which reads: "I have a disability/health condition and am exempt from wearing a face covering. Thank you" The ID card also includes the Disability Horizons logo

Soon after, our editor Liz Ransome-Croker, who has been shielding because of her congenital heart condition, suggested we create a similar card to remind others to keep their distance.

She said: “After lockdown ended, I was concerned about how much others would stick to the 2-metre rule. Because of my heart condition, I don’t know what the virus would do to me, but I am most certainly not willing to take the risk.

Having shielded for months, only going into my back garden, I knew I needed to go out for walks for my mental and physical wellbeing. But because I have an invisible condition, people have no way of knowing that they really should keep their distance from me or anyone else at high risk if they catch Covid-19.

A card and more specifically a bright red lanyard was an obvious way to do it. I have certainly felt more at ease when out walking when wearing it.”

The keep 2M social distance cards are similar to the mask exception ones, and we also sell yellow and red keep 2M distance sashes for an even more obvious signal.

Knowing that there has been a need from the beginning of this pandemic for PPE and other Covid-19 related products, we’ve sold a number of other items as soon as the pandemic hit the UK.

These include:

Read our full article about inventor and businessman Duncan Edwards to find out more about him, his family and their invention, Trabasack, a range of wheelchair lap tray and bags that can be used to hold and support almost anything.

Our mask exemption ID cards were recently featured on ITV News:

By Disability Horizons

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