I was shocked, but not surprised to read another case of someone being unfairly judged due to living with an invisible disability. Fiona Scullard had parked in a blue badge spot and was left horrified when she found a cruel, abusive note on her windscreen, stating that she should “leave [disabled] spaces for those that are.” While visibly healthy, Ms Scullard’s life-saving medicines for her severe asthma is kept in the glovebox.
For members of The British Polio Fellowship living with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), this is an experience we can empathise with. While thousands of us use wheelchairs, PPS is a largely invisible condition, leading to difficulty breathing and making walking long distances impossible.
The vile treatment Ms Scullard received reveals the need for greater public awareness of what disability means. We are as passionate as anyone else in ensuring the blue badge scheme is not abused – but it may be time to come up with a new disability symbol, as the current one perhaps reinforces a popular misconception that only a wheelchair means disability.
If this story gives members of the public food for thought before judging people with hidden disabilities, some good may come of it. However, a wider public debate is required to deliver workable solutions. Anyone who needs our help can visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call 0800 043 1935.
National Chairman, The British Polio Fellowship