Disabled people are appealing for the Government to recognise the recent extension to an access card as proof of them being exempt from protective face coverings.
In the UK, face coverings must be worn in many indoor settings including public transport, shops, hotels and places of worship but wearing them may cause severe difficulties for those with mental health conditions.
Amanda Ball has Dissociative Identity Disorder and would suffer severe psychological distress were she to wear a covering. She also fears the reaction she may receive from others when out and about if she does not.
She therefore advocates wider use of the “Access Card” produced by Nimbus Disability which is already widely used by the entertainment industry to help recognise the specific needs of people with disabilities and impairments.
The card has been modified to show evidence of those who are exempt from wearing face coverings.
Ball explained: “Before the rules changed on face coverings, I tested one out at my local pharmacy but I was left frozen to the spot, unable to explain my needs due to overwhelming anxiety.
“An exemption card is an essential back-up for times like these because if questioned about not wearing a face covering, I may be too distressed to respond. The benefit is that the card, through the use of a logo, informs shops, venues etc of my needs without having to explain myself. This scheme requires evidence to support it being issued so that it isn’t open to misuse.”
Martin Austin MBE, managing director of Nimbus Disability and its Access Card, said: “There are many people in Amanda’s situation. They are still trapped in their homes because they fear the reaction if they go out without a mask.
“Our Access Card gives them peace of mind, especially if it were universally accepted. Therefore, we would be delighted to speak to the Government and the private sector about wider recognition and endorsement to help put our tens of thousands of member’s minds at ease.”