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FEATURE INTO THE BLUE


In 2019 the Department of Transport (DofT) will recognise individuals with less obvious ‘hidden disabilities’ in the biggest change to disabled parking in 40 years. Kenny Marland, MD of HX Car Park Management explains what this new legislation entails.


It is being hailed as the biggest change to disabled parking in 40 years. From January 2019 the Department of Transport will recognise individuals with less obvious ‘hidden disabilities’, who will be able to apply for a Blue Badge, granting them access to disabled parking zones, thus enabling them to park closer to their destinations and enjoy a more active life.


The new legislative guidance now extends to members of the public who cannot travel without ‘a risk of serious harm to health or safety’, including children. The scheme will also be opened to those who find that travelling causes ‘considerable physical distress’, or if they have difficulty with ‘both the physical act and experience of walking’.


Whilst physical disabilities have long been recognised, those with issues such as mental health and autism will now be granted the same right to park in disabled spaces. ‘Hidden disabilities’ has now become an umbrella term that includes a whole spectrum of disabilities, encompassing not only mental health issues but also some physical disabilities which do not always require a wheelchair or walking aids, and are not necessarily


44 | TOMORROW’S FM


immediately visible. This can include physical conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other ailments including: depression and anxiety, bipolar, agoraphobia, autism, ADHD, Coeliac, Crohn’s disease, Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME), epilepsy, and cystic fibrosis.


The new legislative changes are a result of an eight-week consultation period, conducted by the DofT earlier this year. During that process, more than 6,000 responses were received, highlighting the way those with mental health issues often face similar struggles, whilst traveling, to those with physical disabilities.


By what criteria are certain motorists eligible


for a Blue Badge? The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism); cannot undertake a journey without it causing them considerable psychological distress; and, have considerable difficulty when walking, which includes both the physical act and the experience of walking.


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