New changes to the Blue Badge scheme will make it easier than ever before for people with hidden disabilities to get a badge.

The Department for Transport’s overhaul of the Blue Badge scheme will come into effect next year, and has made the process of attaining a badge significantly more simple.

Although people with hidden disabilities are not currently barred from getting a Blue Badge, the rules are “open to interpretation,” and clearing them up ensures people who require a badge are able to get one.

The 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.”

Changes made to the rules on who is eligible to apply for the scheme include:

  • People who can’t make a journey without “a risk of serious harm” to their or others’ health and safety, which includes children with autism,
  • People for whom travelling causes “considerable physical distress,” such as those with anxiety disorders,
  • And people who have difficulty with “both the physical act and the experience of walking.”

These changes come after a consultation in January, which had more than 6,000 responses and lasted for eight weeks.

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.”

Image: Flickr/JoshuaDavisPhotography

 

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