The number of severely disabled people who are able to drive is ever increasing, however the matter of being able to access off-street car parks can still be challenging. In order to address this problem Disabled Motoring UK introduced the Disabled Parking Accreditation (DPA) in 2014 and since April last year it has been administered by the British Parking Association.

The scheme, which recognises off-street parking facilities as accessible to disabled motorists, is now a lawful certification mark awarded to DMUK by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the official UK government body responsible for patents, designs and trademarks.

What is a certification Mark?

 A certification mark is a specific type of trade mark which provides a guarantee that the goods or services bearing the mark meet a certain defined standard or possess a specific characteristic.

DMUK come across certification marks every day and an example of this would be the Kitemark When you see this mark you know and trust that the product you are buying meets British Standards. Another example would be the WoolMark, when you buy a product with this symbol you know and trust that the product is made from wool.

The certification mark for the DPA works in the same way. When you visit a car park and see the DPA certified mark you can know and trust that the car park has been audited and that it will be accessible to disabled motorists. Car parks might say on their signage that they are accessible to disabled motorists or might have a different accessibility accreditation, but the only way to be 100% confident that a car park will meet your accessibility needs is when you see the DPA certified mark displayed.

The DPA certification mark which has been registered in respect of ‘Provision of car parks and car parking services’ is first of its kind in the UK, no other parking accessibility accreditation can claim that they hold this registered certification status.

The DPA is now governed by regulations which the IPO holds. If the charity wanted to change or alter these regulations it would need to seek permission from the IPO to make sure that, with any changes, the DPA certified mark will still maintain its integrity as a car park accessibility certification.

What it means for disabled motorists

The certification mark is awarded by Disabled Motoring UK and aims to standardise council owned and private car parks to the DPA defined regulations. There are over 450 car parks, local authorities and private alike, that have been awarded with the DPA and are able to demonstrate that their parking facilities are meeting required regulations and are accessible to disabled motorists. The certification mark ensures that car parks awarded with the DPA mark have been audited by the British Parking Association’s Area Managers. This audit is a vital aspect of the accreditation as it gives the consumer confidence in the DPA certification mark.

Now that the DPA holds this prestigious certification mark it is gathering more momentum and becoming increasing coveted by private parking operators and local authorities alike. It is the only accreditation a car park can possess that will give customer confidence that their parking facilities are accessible.

Graham Footer, CEO of Disabled Motoring UK, said:

“This is an historic moment for the charity and the parking industry. Finally, after a lot of hard work from many organisations and individuals the charity is now able to award car parks which meet the DPA regulations with a nationally recognised certification mark. This will play a role in putting back much needed consumer confidence in the parking industry. Achieving the DPA certification mark means disabled motorists and their families have an easily identifiable mark which guarantees they are using certified accessible parking facilities”

Kelvin Reynolds, BPA Director of Corporate Affairs and Governance said:

“The BPA is very pleased to support DMUK and are delighted that the DPA is now a nationally recognised certification mark. We are in daily contact with people who own and operate car parks, carrying out assessments for Park Mark, itself a certification mark, and our Approved Operators Scheme. It makes sense that we talk to them about their facilities for disabled motorists and in doing so we are able to make life better for disabled motorists and also reward operators who provide more accessible parking.”

Accessible car parks

All DPA car parks are presented with a Certification of the Accreditation and can be found on the DPA website using a searchable tool to enable a person to locate DPA car parks by entering a postcode or town, visit www.dpaccreditation.co.uk. If you do not have access to the internet please contact the office on 01508 489449 and member of staff will be able to do the search for you.

Private operators and local authorities wishing to apply for the DPA certified mark should email dpa@britishparking.co.uk.