It was reported earlier this week that the blue badge scheme will be expanding by giving them to people with hidden disabilities in England.
A blue badge is a parking permit that allows people with physical disabilities to park their vehicles in disabled parking bays and double yellow lines. The scheme was introduced in 1970 and currently 2 million people have one.
The scheme has already extended to hidden disabilities in Scotland and Wales and is due to change in England next year.
People who will benefit from the changes include those with autism, dementia, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.
My personal opinion is mixed. On one hand it will provide safety and confidence to travel for those with hidden disabilities. On the other hand, there are minimal amount of disabled parking spaces and so there will not be enough for both physically disabled people and those with hidden disabilities.
My suggestion would be before handing out more blue badges, expand the number of disabled spaces. They should have two types of parking bays: large wheelchair bays which are only used by wheelchair users and normal sized disabled bays for hidden disabilities. Plus the wheelchair bays don’t necessarily need to be near the entrance of a store or venue. As long there is safe level access to cross the car park, then wheelchair users can drive their wheelchairs to the entrance.
In addition, the badges could be colour coded to present the type of disability. For example blue is for wheelchair users and other mobility issues, yellow is for autistic or learning disabilities, orange is for sensory impairments and green is for depression or other mental health problems.
Furthermore I hope each person is assessed thoroughly and accurately. Otherwise more people could fraud the system and take advantage of it to be lazy or get free parking.
I did a Facebook poll this week to find out what others thought of the changes: 73% say YES to the changes and 27% say NO to the changes.
Overall, I am not disagreeing that people with learning disabilities, sensory impairments and mental health issues shouldn’t be entitled to a disabled badge but councils need to consider the number of spaces and size of spaces before changing the badge system.
Please do share your thoughts and experiences in the comments box or on social media.
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