Return to Sender?

As a Blinkie, dealing with the post is a Big Problem. As I’ve mentioned before, I can no longer make out anything on a piece of paper except that that is what it is. Unless the postie has enclosed everything within one of those Royal Mail issue elastic bands, I can spend some time scrabbling around the lobby, redding up the correspondence. It’s amazing, just how far postcards and flyers flutter. Lurking undiscovered until a misplaced foot skites both me and the offending piece of paper along the tiles.

Once all has been red up, rudimentary filing ensues. Catalogues are usually wrapped in cellophane; junk mail appears to travel within shiny textured envelopes and flyers, handwritten letters and postcards are identified by both size and feel. But I’m still left with those envelopes which, as they don’t fit any of those categories, probably enclose the really interesting and important stuff. I am, quite literally, in the dark. Miss Pupkin is a talented and noble beast but has yet to master the art of reading. Of course, if there’s anything on audio or in braille I can go through it immediately. Bank statements, Guide Dog details, a selection of magazines, books and newspapers; all easily consumed.

As one who grew up with vinyl, cassette and the CD, I propably don’t fully appreciate how liberating the development of audio has been for blinkies. Braille is fantastic but not everyone can use it and it’s not always practical. I access magazines and fiction via audio but when it comes to bills and business letters, much prefer Braille. Details can be kept to myself and anything not immediately obvious gone over, quite literally, until understood. Businesses and organisations, from satellite telly to building societies must provide material in Braille on request. Do so or be fined. For some time, I’ve received information anent DLA in Braille; correspondence arriving from a DWP office in Blackpool. So, it’s all the odder that this same organisation won’t provide the same, automatic provision anent communications relating to ESA. Braille is only available on request, they insist, and will take considerable time.

I cannot understand this. Quite apart from the fact that another part of this same organisation, albeit based south of the Wall, now does this without a quibble. No one has noticed the flaw in their logic. How can a blinkie request material in Braille, if he cannot access this in the first place? Okay, I’ve a spouse. According to the DWP, one of a spouse’s conjugal duties is reading the post. And friends visit; but often, friends are uneasy about becoming privy to one’s personal details, especially anything financial. Wouldn’t it just be more, well, polite and civilised for all branches of the DWP to provide information, automatically, in the format clients request?

On a recent Friday, A friend commented the pile of post contained two letters from the DWP and offered to read them to me. Both detailed the money allocated to me as my Employment Support Allowance; the same in both. However, one had me in the WRAG Group, the other, in the Support Group.

Confusing. But if the letters had been in Braille, I’d have gone through each line by line, until I’d unravelled things. Instead, over the next hour, four separate persons had to read through my private post; all attempting to make sense of it. All from professions used to explaining the complicated and presenting information as clearly as possible. And none was certain as to whether my appeal had been successful and the DWP had accepted what had been glarlingly obvious to me and everyone I know, that I’m a decrepit old trout and ought to be declared so by being placed in the Support Group in relation to ESA.

In fact, it was only on the following Tuesday, when the lady from Citizens Advice read them, that she confirmed the introductory paragraph of one letter stated I’d been moved, thankfully without appeal, into the Support Group.

If I’d had those letters in Braille, I would have deciphered the jargon. That might sound smug, but, think about it. Most folk, faced with convoluted information, read through it several times. And, eventually, sense materialises out of the mirk. That’s what I would have done. Except in my case, I’d have joined up the dots.

© Charlotte Bennie 2011