Ask the readers

Today we launch the first of our “Ask the readers” series of articles where we invite readers to respond to practical questions that members of the Disability Horizons community have posed.

If you can assist with any of the questions posed in this post, please use the comments section at the bottom of this article. If you have a practical issue or problem that you would like to ask the Disability Horizons community (anonymously if you want), please email

Question – From Jennifer, Manchester, UK

Subject: Arranging personal care overseas

Hi there, my name is Jennifer and I am a 2nd year university student of Sociology. I require full time personal care due to my disability that is funded by my local authority. I was recently offered the chance to study in Canada as part of a 6 month student exchange programme. My main concern is how I would arrange my care for 6 months if I am away. Also, I am required to employ people who qualify to work in the UK as part of my care package, which means I would have to ask someone who works for me in the UK to work with me for the entire 6 months in Canada. I would be grateful for any advice on arranging and managing care if abroad for a significant period of time.

Question – From David, Boston, USA

Subject: Portable ramps

I use a heavy electric wheelchair (Permobil). It is impossible to get over a kerb if there isn’t a ramped part. I have portable ramps which I keep in my van but they are too heavy to carry for significant distance. Does anyone know of a ramp that I can buy which is small enough to hook or attach to my wheelchair?

Question – Anne, Glasgow, UK

Subject: Passport photos

This feels like a silly question! I need a passport photo taken but I can’t find a photo booth where my large powered wheelchair can fit into. Proper photo studios are too expensive. I only became a wheelchair user three years ago so this problem is new to me. The answer is probably really easy but how does a wheelchair user get a passport photo taken?

If you have any advice to answer any of these questions, please use the comments section below.


  1. Portable ramps; In New Zealand Its part of our local Council requirements the all new chanel aka footpaths have to have an accessible down kerb. Would you not be able to speak your local council representative about the private portable ramps should not be required for access to public place including kerbs. It’ll be great if they supported you with it because not only would it beneifit you but the whole community includings paremts with prams.

  2. Re passport photos, some camera shops will do them, just in front of a screen in the shop. I remember this being possibly a little more than a booth, but not much. (I’ve used Jessops in the past)

  3. Regarding the photo question, try camera shops as I have had mine done there a few times; they don’t use booths, just have a white screen you place yourself in front of and the assistant takes the photo (much more flattering results too!)

  4. Re: Passport Photos – Snappy Snaps will do this for you without the need to go in to any sort of booth. I used them for my daughter when she was too small to sit on the stool of a passport photo booth on her own.

  5. Re passport photos – you can actually take the photo at home, on some white or light background. Just check how it has to look – how to keep your head, if you can wear jewellery, which side to turn your head etc. Check the measures of the photo, prepare it and the send it to photo lab and tell them to make a passport photo. All passport offices have informations about how the photo should look. If you have a good printer, you can probably print it out at photo paper at home. So that`ll be even cheaper 🙂

  6. Regarding ramps; Argos used to do roll up ramps, and small folding ramps which I have successfully hung from the back of my Balder. Really quick and easy for friends/pa’s/passers-by to use, not too heavy and for me, similar issues as Permobil, a total time-saver! Just google roll up ramps, suitcase ramps or small scooter ramps. Good luck!

  7. Passport photos; search ‘specifications for uk passport photos’ and there will be all the info to enable you to do one at home. There are sites which will give you templates for printing out contact sheets of the correct size, and as Patie said, search for required specs. Happy travels!

  8. REF PASSPORT PHOTOS : When I last renewed I, like several here, used a camera shop. Jessops made no fuss about it and I was able to position my vast bulk, well fat guy in manual chair, just in front of a white background screen. The guy who did it for me had done so many he actually knew lots about the importance of getting the picture just right ie the plain background, “head up” shot, no obscuring jewellery ( ok cos I’m not a jewellery / piercing kinda guy!). I had 8 passport sized printed there and then because these not only sorted the basic passport picture but there’s now also things like Blue Badge renewals that need a passport sized picture as well. I’ve heard of people doing this at home but frankly I’m not that good on photo shop to get it right.

  9. PORTABLE RAMPS – There are two specialist portable ramp companies exhibiting at this year’s Mobility Roadshow (21, 22 and 23 June at East of England Showground, Peterborough) where you can try them out. They are Jet Marine and Portaramp – find contact details for them at in who’s exhibiting section.

    A portable folding ramp that folds for storage was voted most desirable product by visitors to the Design Zone at last year’s Mobility Roadshow.

  10. Passport photos. Out local chemist provides a service using a digital camera. They provide a simple background to sit in front of which would be OK for use with a wheelchair. They also allow you to preview the picture until you are satisfied with the picture. then they print out four copies for you and charge £4. I was very pleased with my photos and it was all very easy despite my huge wheelchair.

  11. Re Passport photos: My local Sainsburys has a photo printing shop inside and they will happily take a set of passport pics with their own camera and white screen – very accessible, simple and super fast! I guess most large supermarkets would do the same?

  12. RE: Personal care overseas: A friend of mine went on a 9 month uni placement in Germany and hired someone locally to help. She made sure she came back to the UK once a month and during holidays to make sure she didn’t lost any rights to care funding etc. I know this is less practical with Canada, but maybe you could explore something similar. Also maybe the college in Canada could put you in touch with local care agencies who could help.

    All the best, and hope you get to go on the exchange programme!


  13. Passport photos: When I had mine done (admitted a while ago) I had it done in a camera shop. they simply pulled down a screen and I had to stand there. BUT there would have been room. Try phoning round Boots, or camera shops where you live. Even the council.

  14. Recently I was extremely low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this.. With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – vcjo

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