Department for Transport Archives - Driving Mobility

People with hidden disabilities can access Blue Badges for the first time from today

Extension to Blue Badge scheme comes into force in England today for people who have non-visible disabilities, making travel easier

  • Extension to Blue Badge scheme comes into force in England today for people who have non-visible disabilities, making travel easier
  • New online eligibility check launched to make it simpler for people applying for the badges.
  • Today marks the biggest change to the scheme in nearly 50 years.

People with hidden disabilities, including anxiety disorders or a brain injury, can apply for a Blue Badge for the first time from today (August 30).

The Department for Transport has issued new guidance to councils in England on Blue Badge parking permit eligibility, along with a new online eligibility checker to make the scheme clearer for people before they apply.

In the biggest change to Blue Badges since the 1970s, the DfT has been working with specialists to expand the eligibility criteria for the badges, which now includes people who cannot walk as part of a journey without considerable psychological distress or the risk of serious harm.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“We know that for some people, the possibility of not being able to find a parking space can make even leaving the house a challenge, which is why the Blue Badge is so important.

“The scheme, which is already a lifeline for so many disabled people, will make a huge difference to those with non-visible conditions such as autism, dementia, Parkinson’s and arthritis. It is my sincere wish that these changes will improve even more people’s lives.”

The Government’s ambitious Inclusive Transport Strategy, changes to the Blue Badge scheme and the Access for All programme will continue the UK’s internationally-leading plans for fully-accessible transport.

The Blue Badge scheme already means people with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers, as they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances.

Plans to extend the scheme to those with non-visible conditions were announced last summer following an eight-week consultation. It is an important part of the Government’s drive for greater parity between physical and mental health.

It will offer a lifeline to people who often find road travel difficult by providing better access to work and other amenities, while also helping combat loneliness by helping them stay connected to family and friends.

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said:

 “Today is a pivotal moment for thousands of people with hidden disabilities across the country, many of whom face unacceptable discrimination or even abuse when using disabled parking spaces.

“The changes we’re making will be life-changing for these disabled people, allowing them to go about their daily lives without experiencing unnecessary stress or worry.”

To help councils with the expected increase in applications, the department has agreed with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide £1.7 million in the first year of the programme.

The expanded scheme coincides with the launch of a review intended to improve enforcement, and help councils tackle fraudulent use of the badges.

At the end of 2018, the Local Government Association estimated that the theft of Blue Badges had risen by 45 per cent in 12 months and was up six-fold since 2013.

The review will look at ensuring Blue Badges are used correctly and improving public understanding so that those with non-visible disabilities can use the badges with confidence.

A task group will also be set up with key organisations to gather ideas and evidence on how to improve the consistency of council enforcement to tackle fraud and misuse.

Tim Nicholls Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the National Autistic Society said:

“We are delighted to see the new Blue Badge rules come into force. This will be a huge relief for thousands of autistic people and their families in England, many of whom are so anxious about things going wrong that they find it hard to leave the house at all.

“A Blue Badge can be life changing. To live up to this promise, it’s absolutely essential that council officials making decisions about Blue Badges understand autism and the challenges autistic people can face getting out and about.”

While the new criteria will give clear and consistent guidelines on Blue Badge eligibility for the whole of England, not everyone with non-visible disabilities will qualify for a badge. It will be up to the relevant local authority to decide if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria, as is currently the case.

Councils may need to review parking provision to increase the number of spaces, both in terms of the availability of disabled parking, and the overall number of parking spaces if disabled spaces take up other existing parking spaces.

Last year, the Government set out its plans to improve accessibility across all modes of transport in the Inclusive Transport Strategy, which aims to make the UK’s transport network fully inclusive by 2030.

Mayor and Mayoress ceremonially begin construction of new RDAC assessment centre for Midland’s disabled drivers

Alongside many stakeholders and associates, Councillor Stuart Davis and Mrs Sarah Walker have officially begun construction of the new RDAC disabled driving assessment headquarters in Hampton in Arden, part of the national Driving Mobility network.

Alongside many stakeholders and associates, Councillor Stuart Davis and Mrs Sarah Walker have officially begun construction of the new RDAC disabled driving assessment headquarters in Hampton in Arden, part of the national Driving Mobility network.

RDAC is an independent charity with driving assessment centres located centrally within the UK. Its Birmingham headquarters will relocate to these new flagship Solihull premises when construction is completed in early 2020. RDAC is accredited by the nationwide charity Driving Mobility which is regarded as the national voice of assisted driving and independence. Driving Mobility oversees twenty independent organisations, similar to RDAC, which offer professional support and driving assessments to people who need to gain, or retain, the ability to drive following a diagnosis involving impairment or disability.

Councillor Stuart Davis, Mayor of Solihull, commented: “I am honoured to perform this ceremony today and are delighted that RDAC have chosen Solihull as their new home. The location is ideal in terms of accessibility and we look forward to seeing how this new centre helps disabled individuals from across the local area gain more independence.”

The ceremony was well attended by representatives from various organisations who are responsible for the design, construction and delivery of Driving Mobility’s latest RDAC centre. Alongside the Mayor and Mayoress, attendees included:

  • Sue Rogers MBE, Manager for the Mobility Centres of England, Accessibility Policy Team, Active Accessible Travel, Department for Transport
  • Edward Trewhella, CEO, Driving Mobility
  • Colin Barnett, CEO, RDAC, and RDAC colleagues
  • John Bridgewater, Commercial Manager, Mossvale, and colleagues
  • Neil Chadwick, Client Relations Manager Charities, CAF Bank
  • Mark Emeny, Director, Emeny Turley Partnership Limited
  • Nicholas Barlow, Managing Director, Packington Estate Enterprises Limited, and colleagues

The new RDAC centre in Solihull will serve people throughout the Midlands and will be operated by a team of qualified ADIs (Approved Driving Instructors), Occupational Therapists and Administrative Staff. This team will be focused on maximising road safety through clinical recommendations regarding appropriate adapted vehicles and specialist driving controls.

Colin Barnett, Chief Executive of RDAC comments: “Today, the team and I are feeling ecstatic that construction of our new headquarters has begun. We would like to thank everyone involved with making this happen. This milestone has taken several years to achieve however we can all look forward to helping more individuals gain driving freedom with additional capacity and extra services. Our relocation from central Birmingham has been the result of HS2 however our new premises will be situated in a more relaxed and calming rural atmosphere. We believe this will add value to the client experience resulting in greater confidence and clarity during the assessment process. Overall this scenic location will be better for everyone.”

Edward Trewhella, CEO, Driving Mobility, concludes: “The latest RDAC centre will be absolutely fantastic especially as it is purpose built for our services. An undercover all-weather area for vehicle assessments, an adjoining closed road for test drives, calming ambience and excellent transport links – it couldn’t be better. The facilities will be such an improvement on RDAC’s previous headquarters and will provide the perfect base to develop more outreach centres across the Midlands. I concur with Colin in thanking all concerned.”

Bristol’s Driving and Mobility Centre celebrates 25 years of delivering independence to disabled and older people

Established in 1994 and part of the charitable Driving Mobility network, the Driving and Mobility Centre based in Bristol, has achieved 25 years of providing assessments and accessible services to disabled and older people.

Established in 1994 and part of the charitable Driving Mobility network, the Driving and Mobility Centre based in Bristol, has achieved 25 years of providing assessments and accessible services to disabled and older people.

Initially established as a volunteer-led Disabled Living Centre (DLC), to demonstrate wide-ranging adaptive equipment and disability aids, the centre now focuses on specialist fitness-to-drive assessments along with other services regarding independent mobility. As a Community Interest Company, it is accredited by the national charity Driving Mobility, which oversees twenty independent organisations across the UK. Each centre offers professional support and driving assessments to people who need to gain, or retain, the ability to drive following a diagnosis involving impairment or disability.

Daniela Meucci, Centre Manager, comments: “We are delighted and proud to be celebrating this significant milestone. Our original DLC remit – ‘to maintain the provision of information and assessment for equipment to support independent living’ – continues to hold true today. Our team has helped vast numbers of locals living with restricted mobility to enjoy more independence and inclusive lifestyles. Despite financial struggles in the past, we have been able to grow our services whilst maintaining quality and professionalism. Today our driving, passenger, vehicle adaptation and mobility scooter assessments are delivered by highly experienced OTs (Occupational Therapists) and ADIs (Approved Driving Instructors). These diligent and dedicated professionals support people who refer themselves to us or are referred via Health Professionals, the DVLA, Motability, and the Police. Through advanced checking that includes motor, sensory and cognitive function, we are able to enhance safety on the road not only for our service users, but all highway users.”

The Bristol centre began as a voluntary Disabled Living Centre (DLC) which was one of the first services managed by disabled people. Despite challenging finances, it was determined, and had ambitious ideas, aiming to offer informed and impartial advice with equipment displays so locals living with restricted mobility could discover ways to enhance freedom. Later that year there was a funding breakthrough when a grant from Avon Social Services and Bristol City Council, allowed the DLC to establish premises at The Vassall Centre, where the Centre remains today. Assistive product suppliers were supportive in providing daily living equipment for this new accessible and spacious venue – allowing displays and services to be expanded. Work progressed, including a project to pilot a Driving Service, an accessible garden, a wheelchair testing area, clothing support, multi-media library and open days.

In 1998, the driving service was consolidated with funding from the National Lottery Charities Board. A part-time OT and peripatetic driving instructor were employed so that a more comprehensive service regarding adapted driving could be provided. The facilities were enhanced with an indoor vehicle area and a static driving rig for more detailed driver analysis.

In 2012 local authority funding was lost and so significant streamlining of the DLC service was implemented – hence a focus on driving and mobility assessment became the core service thanks to continuing Department for Transport support.

Today, the Driving and Mobility Centre (West of England) continues to grow and develop. The Centre’s specialist team provides professional advice regarding vehicle adaptations, driving controls, wheelchair accessible vehicle solutions and equipment loading options. In addition to its headquarters in Bristol it has established outreach centres in Yeovil and Weymouth.

Daniela concludes: “Our survival in the face of various funding battles over the years highlights the strong commitment of staff and exemplifies the support we have received from our local community and the Department for Transport. If we can maintain long term funding for the vital services we provide, I am confident about the future, and we will continue to instigate sustainable strategies to help more people, more older drivers and disabled drivers, benefit from independent mobility, and safe, confident driving.”

 

£20m fund to benefit disabled rail passengers one year on from the Inclusive Transport Strategy

Disabled rail passengers across the UK are set to benefit from a raft of accessibility improvements with the opening of a £20m government fund today (Monday, 8 July 2019).

£20m fund marks one year on from the Inclusive Transport Strategy

  • Industry invited to nominate train stations across Britain that would benefit from improvements to accessibility. 
  • Department marks one-year since the publication of the Inclusive Transport Strategy.
  • Move follows wider developments to make the transport network more inclusive, such as the extension of the Blue Badge scheme.

Disabled rail passengers across the UK are set to benefit from a raft of accessibility improvements with the opening of a £20m government fund today (Monday, 8 July 2019).

The opening of the fund marks a year since the launch of the Inclusive Transport Strategy, the Government’s flagship accessibility programme.

Key commitments delivered in the last 12 months include the introduction of the first ever impartial independent Rail Ombudsman, to make sure passengers get a fair deal when train companies fall short, and the launch of a £2m fund to bring Changing Places accessible toilets to more motorway service areas.

And last month, guidance was issued to local authorities in England for extending the Blue Badge scheme – the biggest change in 50 years – making it easier for people with non-visible disabilities to travel.

Nusrat Ghani, Accessibility Minister, said:

“While many take for granted the ability to travel easily from A to B, access for the fifth of people who identify as disabled can be far from straightforward.

“We want disabled people to travel easily, confidently and without extra cost, which is why it is fantastic to be opening this fund today.

“I look forward to seeing what ideas the industry has for accessibility improvements as we work towards a more inclusive rail network.”

The £20m fund will be open for applications from stations in need of accessibility improvements, leading to small-scale enhancements such as tactile paving, handrails and Harrington Humps, which increase platform heights. Taken together, these improvements will open up journeys for disabled passengers, allowing them to travel with confidence.

John Welsman, guide dog owner and policy lead at Guide dogs for travel and mobility, said:

“Guide Dogs welcomes the additional funding as independent train travel is a real challenge for people living with sight loss.

“Elements like tactile paving on platform edges and steps, better signage, improved lighting and colour contrast, will make stations easier to negotiate confidently and more safely.

“However train travel is still a very complex environment for people with sight loss and we will continue to work to find solutions so that no one with sight loss is left out of life.”

This follows the announcement in April that 73 stations will benefit from accessible routes to and between every platform, as part of the Government’s £300m Access for All fund.

The Access for All programme was first launched in 2006 and has so far delivered more than 200 accessible routes into stations along with smaller scale improvements at a further 1,500 stations.

Previous projects funded through the programme include the installation of Harrington Humps at 77 stations to help reduce stepping distances from the platform to the train; accessible toilets installed at 18 stations – including a Changing Places toilet at London Paddington – and a new footbridge and four lifts installed at St Neots Station, Cambridgeshire.

The government is also proposing a number of measures to be delivered in partnership with industry to improve the flying experience for disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility as part of its Aviation 2050 Strategy.

The work is all part of the Government’s aspiration that by 2030 all major transport hubs and terminals on both public and private transport networks will meet the needs of disabled people, including toilet and changing facilities, straightforward signage, audio and visual messaging and space to navigate.

https://twitter.com/transportgovuk/status/1148123482867343360

2019 Driving Mobility Annual Conference – delivering the National Voice of independent transportation

Charity Driving Mobility has successfully held its Annual Conference to share developments and ideas regarding accessible driving and independent mobility.

Charity Driving Mobility has successfully held its Annual Conference at The University of Chester for Professionals and Practitioners to share developments and ideas regarding accessible driving and independent mobility.

Driving Mobility accredits a nationwide network of driving assessment centres that include independent charities and NHS centres – all offering professional guidance for disabled and elderly people seeking independent travel.  Service users can self-refer or are signposted via the DVLA, Motability, Police and healthcare professionals to assess ability and advise on appropriate approaches to safe driving.

The conference was attended by centre staff and managers along with board members and guest speakers representing Stakeholders and associated organisations. The agenda involved a comprehensive Driving Mobility update along with engaging presentations and panel discussions regarding accessible driving and transport as a whole.

Colin Barnett, Driving Mobility Chair, hosted the day which began with Driving Mobility Chief Executive, Edward Trewhella. His engaging AGM session was followed by a series of talks, panel discussions and interactive presentations from key stakeholders and associates including:

The afternoon session comprised two educational streams running simultaneously which featured the following speakers:  Hana Stewart, Christine Parr, Kirsteen Longstaff, Amanda Beck, Rachel Odell, Andrew Swain, Ros Gay, Anu Varshney, Anne O’Shea, Jon Nock, Gary Jones and Paul Gambrell.

Edward Trewhella CEO comments: “Thank you to all stakeholders, associates, supporters and Driving Mobility members for their enthusiastic contributions, especially as floods, distance and unseasonal weather challenged attendance for many. The charity fully appreciates everyone’s ongoing commitment to Driving Mobility. Together we are the national voice of accessible driving and independent mobility – this conference always reaffirms our mantra.”