Experts hail the blue badge scheme as one that gives ‘complete reassurance’ to individuals diagnosed with autism.
Under the proposed new scheme, individuals with hidden disabilities such as autism and dementia are expected to be given a blue badge parking permit which is aimed at easing their parking woes.
Authorities in the transport department commended the initiative of some councils to recognize the complexities associated with hidden disabilities. The new rule is designed to help people with ‘clear and consistent’ guidelines. The move was welcomed by many health campaigners as they believe this to be an important step in providing a possible lifeline to many people with unrecognized or hidden disabilities.
Further, the proposal will be in the process of an eight-week consultation in order to create parity when it comes to treating mental and physical health.
Campaigners state, “If the bill sees the light, it will be one of the biggest changes to the existing scheme which has been in action since the 70’s”.
England currently has 2.4 million people with blue badges which allow them to park their vehicles at no charge in bays with pay signs. Further, in London, people with a blue badge are exempt from paying a congestion charge.
Brian Beatson, an ex-RAF officer, says his son always encounters issues while parking his car. Richard Beatson, Brian’s son, says, “I am diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and a blue badge would come as a much-awaited support and a new year’s bonus.”
Richard recalls that his dad was ‘into RAF and he still loves aviation’.
Mr. Brian Beatson says, “People with a history of Alzheimer’s are often in a world of their own, unaware of the impending dangers out there that put them at a greater risk than others.”
“I have printed a symbol of my disability on the front of my car and ask people at the gate if they mind letting me park closer,” explains Mr. Beatson.
Mr. Beatson further comments, “If you can figure it out before we have to explain things by seeing the symbol, it is much easier as these illnesses can be included in the list of ‘unseen illness’.”
Jesse Norman, transport minister, highlighted the importance of the blue badge for disabled people and said this move will help create additional jobs.
The minister says, “We would love to extend this to each and every individual experiencing an invisible disability.”
The Dept of Transport has successfully responded to the badge user’s challenges and state “Not having the flexibility to park their vehicles forces them to go out less often.”
Marjorie Wallace welcomed the change and commented, “By taking note of something invisible like mental illness, we have taken a great step in understanding the underlying perceptions of the disorder.”
It is great news for drivers with a history of autism diagnosis, The National Police Autism Association highlighted.
Having access to disabled parking space eases the stress according to campaigners.