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TfL launches ‘Please offer me a seat’ badges for people with a hidden impairment

Added: 31 August 2016 | Updated: 31 August 2016

From Monday 12 September, Transport for London (TfL) is trialling a new “Please offer me a seat” badge and card on all their services to help customers who are less able to stand get a seat when they need one.

This badge could be very useful for many disabled people with a hidden impairment. Transport for All regularly receives feedback from disabled people who struggle to get a seat on the Tube or buses because people judge that they “do not look like a disabled person” 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 today.

This badge should not become the norm

Transport for All welcomes this initiative. But as Alan Benson, Chair at Transport for All says: “Whilst we are supporting this initiative for people who choose to use it, this should not become the norm. Disabled people should not have to wear this badge in order to prove that they need a priority seat. We hope TfL will keep encouraging people’s behaviour to give their seat to anyone who may need it regardless of whether they are wearing a badge or not”.

About 1,000 badges will be available when the trial launches in September and participants will also be given a card they can show to TfL staff.

London’s transport commissioner Mike Brown said: “We appreciate that asking for a seat on public transport can sometimes be difficult, particularly for customers who have [a hidden impairment] or condition. That is why we are launching this trial, and if it is successful we will work closely with older and disabled people’s organisations to develop the final product.“

This trial follows the success of TfL’s “Baby on board” badge for pregnant women.

How to get a badge?

TfL is recruiting 1,000 people for a month-long trial and all those taking part will receive the card and badge. They explain that this trial will help them understand if the badge or card can help people access a seat, and understand the reactions of other customers.

Any customer interested in taking part can get in touch with the research agency 2CV, which is working with TfL on the trial, by emailing tfltrial@2cv.com. Unfortunately if you aren’t chosen for the trial you won’t be able to apply for a badge and card at this time.