Blue Badge scheme extended to those with “hidden” disabilities

The Blue Badge scheme for drivers with disabilities will this month extend to those with ‘invisible’ conditions, such as autism and mental illness.

Announcing the extended scheme, the Department for Transport said the Blue Badge will remove the barriers many face to travel.

A Blue Badge allows disabled drivers to park closer to their destination than other drivers, often signposted by allocated disabled driver spaces.

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, for example, young children with autism.

It will also include those who cannot travel without causing considerable psychological distress, or have considerable difficulty when walking.

Commenting on the new criteria, Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, said: “Today’s Blue Badge announcement will make a massive difference to the lives of many of the 600,000 autistic people in England, and their families.

“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.”

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