UK to Offer People with Hidden Disabilities “Blue Badge” Parking Permits
6 August 2018 at 4:36 pm
People with hidden disabilities in the UK will soon be able to access “blue badge” parking permits, enabling them to park closer to their destination.
The UK Department for Transport announced they were extending their “blue badges” scheme to help remove the barriers people with hidden disabilities – including autism and mental health conditions – faced when travelling.
The scheme currently allows those with physical disabilities to park closer to their destination than other drivers, given they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances.
But in what the UK government described as the biggest overhaul to the scheme since the 1970s, those with less visible conditions will be able to access the permits from early 2019.
UK Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “Blue badges are a lifeline for disabled people, giving them the freedom and confidence to get to work and visit friends independently.”
“The changes we have announced… will ensure that this scheme is extended equally to people with hidden disabilities so that they can enjoy the freedoms that many of us take for granted.”
The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who cannot undertake their journey without risk of serious harm to their safety or that of another person (such as a child with autism); to those whose journey could cause them considerable psychological distress; and people who experience considerable difficulty when walking.
People with 'hidden disabilities' including autism and mental health conditions will soon become eligible for blue badge parking permits. Is this a move you welcome? pic.twitter.com/DHh6LuUo96
— This Morning (@thismorning) August 4, 2018
The announcement was welcomed by the National Autistic Society, which had campaigned for years to extend the scheme.
Jane Harris, the society’s director of external affairs, said the changes would make a “massive difference to the lives of many autistic people and their families across England”.
“Just leaving the house is a challenge for many of the 600,000 autistic people in England, involving detailed preparation – and sometimes overwhelming anxiety about plans going wrong,” Harris said.
“Some autistic people might not be aware of the dangers of the road or become overwhelmed by busy or loud environments.”
“The possibility of not being able to find a parking space near where you’re going, can mean you can’t contemplate leaving the house at all. A blue badge will be a lifeline and prevent a life of isolation.”