Back in October, I started the process of reapplying for my Blue Badge – for those that might not know, this allows disabled people to park in disabled spaces, often making shopping trips and appointments much easier. My previous badge expired during lockdown and I delayed renewing it because we weren’t really going anywhere.
Before I go into the application process and how totally inaccessible it is, I want to point out that my disability is permanent – if it changes, it will only get worse. Therefore, I really don’t understand why I’m forced to go through this process every 3 years -this is extremely frustrating, time consuming and as I’ll explain, also infringes on my privacy.
The application process is now all online and whilst this seems like it should be accessible, I would argue that it’s extremely inaccessible for disabled people. You’re required to attach several pieces of supporting evidence which involves scanning or photographing letters to then upload to the system. For someone with dexterity problems, this is very fiddly and frustrating and took me over an hour. However, I am very conscientious and I made sure everything requested was attached.
Just two days later, I received a letter from Sandwell Council saying that my PIP award letter hadn’t been attached and could I send another copy in the post. So once again, I carefully photocopied the PIP letter and send it back in the envelope provided. However, I was rather concerned that they were requesting all pages of my PIP award as this covers personal information about all aspects of my daily life from my ability to cook and dress myself, as well as my mobility. This is the only part which has any impact on my entitlement to a blue badge so the request for all pages is a total breach of my privacy. Why should an administrator in the council know about how I look after myself and whether I can use the bathroom independently? It’s humiliating and I intend on making a formal complaint/
It was several weeks before I heard anymore about my application and I was wondering what was going on. Suddenly, I received another letter saying that I had not provided the supporting evidence and my application would be closed if they didn’t hear from me. I was absolutely furious and I phoned them immediately. I explained that I had already provided the information TWICE and that they were oblivious to how inaccessible they were making the process. I was made to email the information again but there was no acknowledgement of my points.
A couple of days ago, someone phoned to take payment for the badge – yes that’s right, you have to pay for a piece of card that helps make your life a bit easier. I was required to input my card number into the keypad and unfortunately kept getting it wrong, again due to my dexterity problems. The lady kept telling me “just to do it four digits at a time”!! I couldn’t quite believe how she thought she was helping! I’m sorry but if your job involves communicating with disabled people, you should have some awareness of the difficulties we face.
I believe my application is finally being processed and the badge will arrive any day but like many things, it was so much harder than it needed to be. Life is difficult enough living with a disability but when critical processes like this are made so inaccessible, life gets even more hard and frustrating.