The Department for Transport have announced that from next year, people with hidden disabilities will be eligible to receive a Blue Badge parking permit.
The scheme will be extended to explicitly include those with non-physical disabilities, as while the current rules do not bar them from receiving a blue badge, they required additional clarity so that a standard interpretation of the rules could be introduced.
Newly included in the scheme are those who cannot make a journey without “a risk of serious harm to health or safety,” people for whom journeys cause “very considerable physical distress,” and those for whom “both the physical act and the experience of walking” cause great difficulty.
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 today 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.”
Jane Harris of the National Autistic Society, said: “Just leaving the house is a challenge for many autistic people, involving detailed preparation – and sometimes overwhelming anxiety about plans going wrong.
“And 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.”
By making those with hidden disabilities eligible to use Blue Badges and bringing the issue of hidden disabilities to the wider attention of the public, the scheme could help in reducing instances of attacks on disabled people from those who do not believe they “appear” disabled.
Image: Flickr/Marco Verch
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