London transport unveils badge program for persons with invisible disabilities

LONDON: Badges reading “Please offer me a seat” are to be introduced for passengers with invisible impairments who may find it difficult or impossible to ask for a seat, Transport for London (TFL) said on Thursday.

Please offer me a seat badgeThis badge could be very useful for many persons with disabilities with a invisible disability. Transport for All receives feedback from persons with disabilities who struggle to get a seat on the Tube or buses because people judge that they “do not look like a person with disability” and don’t need priority seating. The true is that they often desperately need it. This badge could minimise embarrassment of many disabled people when asking for a seat.

A few months ago, TfA published the testimony from Claire Lindsay from Thoughtistic who explained how difficult it is for her to get a seat: “I have Autism but I don’t look ’Autistic’ or ‘Disabled’; I need assistance when I travel on trains or the underground. Once I get a seat I end up spending a lot of time defending my entitlement to it. I have to put up with remarks such as “She should give up her seat for someone who is properly disabled.” This causes me extreme anxiety and I always end up getting off the bus early and walking the rest of the way”.

At that time Claire said that she would like to see a Priority Seat badge in order to take away some of the confrontation that happens when you have to approach other passengers. She explained that she started to wear a badge that says “Autistic” so that people have a visible clue to her impairment: “I have had more positive reactions since”. “This badge will make it easier for me to get a seat where before I would have to depend on staff to ask for me” she added.

Some 1.34 billion passengers use TfL’s London Underground network every year, with an average of 284 seats per train across all London Underground lines. TfL say they will be the first European transport provider to officially support those with hidden impairments in this way.

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