This seems to be my third article around a central theme of defining disability and both our perceptions and that of others.
Thus we arrive at maybe the biggest bone of contention – the Blue Badge, the most contentious, most defrauded, and least validated item available to a disabled person.
Even I, an ‘automatic’ holder due to my receipt of DLA (Mobility) Allowance, am firmly of the belief that blue badges are being misused, sometimes through ignorance, sometimes through malice.
Let’s review the basic requirement (there are others).
GOV.UK states that one has to have ‘a permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking’.
This is further qualified with ‘this may include excessive pain and breathlessness, or a deterioration of health brought on by the effort needed to walk.’
We should also remember that the badge is solely for the direct benefit of the holder, it cannot be lent, even to somebody performing a task for you.
Nor can a holder use a space and sit in the car while another person is attending an appointment, irrespective of the reason. Again, there is no benefit to the holder.
The holder risks seizure of the badge and even criminal action.
A more controversial question is how eligible badge holders, as above, can manage without visible discomfort, to walk from the space to the building, walk a long distance around the building, and then back to the car park.
This should be impossible, but it happens.
Local authorities are supposed to perform face-to- face assessments, but many of these have been reduced or cut entirely to save money, which may explain these discrepancies.
And possibly the biggest irritation of all, the blue badge is to improve accessibility to buildings.
It is not intended to, nor should it, infer free or discounted parking. If we can operate a vehicle, we can afford to park one.
If we want respect from other drivers, we must earn it back again, and do this through following the rules AND by lobbying councils and car park operators to ensure badges are being used legally.
If people continue to visibly ignore the rules, then the problem will worsen, and they have but themselves to blame.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.