December 22, 2016 / 12:54 PM / in 4 years

London transport launches badges for people with hidden disabilities

LONDON (Reuters) - Badges reading “Please offer me a seat” are to be introduced for passengers with invisible impairments who may find it difficult or impossible to ask for a seat, Transport for London (TFL) said on Thursday.

The blue badges, similar to existing “Baby on Board” badges for pregnant women, will be introduced next Spring. An accompanying card will read: “Remember not all disabilities and conditions are visible.”

TfL, the capital’s transport provider, said a six-week trial of 1,200 people with invisible impairments had been overwhelmingly successful, with 72 percent of journeys described as easier with the badge. In 86 percent of journeys, participants reported feeling more confident when asking for a seat.

Some 1.34 billion passengers use TfL’s London Underground network every year, with an average of 284 seats per train across all London Underground lines. TfL say they will be the first European transport provider to officially support those with hidden impairments in this way.

The badges are in response to passenger feedback and stories of travelers finding their own solutions to the problem, such as the “Cancer on board” badge created by cancer patient James McNaught.

“Getting a seat on transport when you need it can sometimes be really tricky, especially if the reason you need to sit down isn’t obvious to others,” said McNaught, who took part in the trial.

“When I was undergoing radiotherapy for throat cancer, it meant I couldn’t talk to ask for a seat and the morphine I was taking made me appear drunk. It was a real struggle to get people to understand why I needed to sit down,” he added.

Reporting by Camilla Hodgson; editing by Stephen Addison

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