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Protestors park wheelchairs / Blue Badge

In an inspired act of protest against their rights being perpetually disrespected or ignored, the Portuguese contingent of the global disabled community has taken matters into its own hands.

The demonstration has seen them station wheelchairs in every space in a car park, leaving able motorists unable to use the facility.

This everyday disregard of the rights of the disabled is an unjust, frustrating and belittling experience suffered universally by people with disabilities.

The UK does have it’s Blue Badge scheme, which entitles those who wield one to legally position their vehicles on roads sporting single or double yellow lines, so long as the space isn’t also marked for loading.

Elsewhere across the UK, however, any privileges for disabled drivers and their carers aren’t quite so apparent.

The government’s Strategic Planning Department policy recommends that when a car park contains in excess of fifty spaces, a paltry 4% of these are reserved for people with disabilities. Fewer than fifty and there is an obligation to include but one.

The British Standards Code of Practice for building design suggests that businesses’ parking provisions should designate 5% of its capacity to disabled visiting motorists, whilst allocating one space for each member of staff who is a disabled driver.

Yet these are merely guidelines. And under the Equality Act 2010, there is no statutory requirement to provide any at all.

Still, the policy of inclusion that the Act promotes has been rapidly adopted by schools, the BBC and other institutions over recent years, and has been a societal success.

Over time, this in itself may transform the attitudes of the wider British public enough to start recognising and respecting the requirements of disabled motorists.

If not, the Portuguese disabled community have proactively demonstrated one highly effective method of garnering attention to their rights.

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