Hidden Disabilities Pass

Most of us know that feeling of getting on a bus or subway car and seeing the seats filled and wondering if we have the stamina to make it by standing for the duration of our ride. Transport for London (England) is running a trial to see if issuing special badges to people with hidden disabilities would make a difference in their travels. They have based the experimental "Please Offer me a Seat" program off of earlier success with ‘baby on board’ buttons for pregnant women, as well as a grassroots campaign done by a man with cancer.

please-offer-me-a-badge_rdax_400x250People in London and other urban areas are often dependent on riding the train or buses and the experiment is meant to see if it helps with getting a seat rather than having to stand. When you have an invisible illness, strangers have no way of knowing that a simple gesture such as giving up their seat to you makes a huge difference.

I’ve noticed frequently when I am traveling that people are very likely to offer me their seat or hold open the door for me, seeing the visual clue of my cane. But if I didn’t have that assistive device I would look like just any other aging woman, and probably left to my own  ways.

This study in London is looking for 1,000 people with hidden disabilities to participate in their 30 day trial. I was looking over their site on accessible travel, and am encouraged by what I read. I have to note, though, in the world of public relations it is possible to look great when the reality is strikingly different. I would love to know from those of you in the UK how closely this look matches your experiences.

In their very brief release about "Please Offer Me a Seat," they offer these questions and answers to guide users:

What do I do if I see someone with a badge?

If you see someone with a badge or card and you are seated, please stand and offer them your seat. While there are priority seats on public transport, we would like to encourage all customers in any seat, to be kind and offer their seat to those that are less able to stand.

I am less able to stand myself. Am I expected to move for badge holders?

Not at all. We recognize that many customers who need a seat won't have a badge or a card, including pregnant women, parents with babies, older people, injured people and disabled people, including those with hidden disabilities and conditions. We trust people to use their common sense.

Do users have to explain why they need a seat to other passengers?

No. The purpose of this badge and card is to eliminate the need to explain to fellow passengers the reason for needing a seat.”

We’ve talked before about MS identification cards and other ways for us to self-disclose we have special needs. This approach to issuing a special blue badge or card might be useful on public transportation and it will be interesting to read their results. It also got me wondering where else might an ID card help make our lives better and I would love to hear any ideas where you would like to flash a ‘special needs’ pass.

Wishing you well,


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