Comment: Could Blue Badges for mental health conditions negatively impact those with mobility needs?
Following the government’s announcement to extend the Blue Badge scheme to include hidden disabilities, lifelong wheelchair user and prominent accessibility & disability rights campaigner Steve Wilkinson, commonly known as WheelchairSteve, has shared his thoughts on the decision.
The founder of the annual and international celebrated International Wheelchair Day, Steve has campaigned for over two decades for improvements to accessibility, as well as publishing his own report in 2012 investigating cases of disability discrimination and proposing recommendations of how changes to legislation can create a more inclusive society.
By Steve Wilkinson
“It’s important to emphasise that the purpose of blue badges is to provide convenient and appropriate accessibility (eg wider parking bays) for those who can’t or have difficulty walking or who can’t use normal sized parking spaces due to the fact they need extra space for a wheelchair when getting in or out of a vehicle.
“It is not, nor should it be, about free parking, even though for many that is the attraction. Indeed, over the years, it has become a free parking pass by default, therefore, desirable by many non-disabled people or those with disabilities where the criteria mentioned above does not apply.
“The current system is already open to abuse with people borrowing blue badges or leaving the actual disabled badge holder in the car while able-bodied family or friends go to the shops instead.
“Given the principal purpose of blue badges and disabled parking bays is to help people who have physical mobility problems where walking is either very difficult or not even possible. While mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, are genuine medical conditions and those suffering need treatment and support; I’m unclear how access to a disabled parking bay will actually help.
“Disabled parking provision is already limited and subject to widespread abuses it’s my view, I’m afraid, that this new policy is only going to make things worse and limit further the opportunities for physically disabled people to get out and about and would urge a rethink from the powers that be.”https://thiis.co.uk/guest-article-could-blue-badge-scheme-extension-for-mental-health-conditions-negatively-impact-those-with-mobility-needs/https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/blue-badge-car-park-disabled-space.jpg?fit=1000%2C682&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/blue-badge-car-park-disabled-space.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Analysis & InsightsGovernment & Local AuthoritiesNewsroomOpinions & CommentsBlue Badge,Blue Badge Scheme,expansion,Hidden Disabilities,International Wheelchair Day,Steve Wilkinson,Thoughts,WheelchairSteveFollowing the government’s announcement to extend the Blue Badge scheme to include hidden disabilities, lifelong wheelchair user and prominent accessibility & disability rights campaigner Steve Wilkinson, commonly known as WheelchairSteve, has shared his thoughts on the decision.The founder of the annual and international celebrated International Wheelchair Day, Steve has...Calvin BarnettCalvin Barnettcalvin@thiis.co.ukAdministratorTHIIS Magazine