Badge Envy

Heather Mills has more than just Paul McCartney angry. She’s gotten on the wrong side of the Federation of Disabled People.

They are all in a huff because Heather is appearing in the ABC TV series Dancing with the Stars. The UK-based group say that she should give up her blue (handicap parking) badge because she is able to get around. “Clearly she has mobility so she should refrain from using the badge. It’s not fair on other disable people.”

Now I’m no particular fan of the strange estranged Mrs McCartney, but as a advocate for the handicapped, and most certainly my fellow amputees, the only thing I can say to the Federation of Disabled People is “on your bike”. I’m glad that on a good day and with the quality of prosthetics Heather can clearly afford, she can dance. I wish I could. It still takes her 35% more energy to do it. That means she gets worn out that much faster. And she’s taking half the weight on a stump in a socket. If she dances for a hour or two (and why shouldn’t she), she may not have much energy or tolerance left to do much more.

The advantage of handicap parking is not just the proximity to a destination. It is the width available to open the door. Someone wearing a prosthesis needs more room to open the door, because even if they can run into the store, they can’t fully flex their knee.

What is mobility? That she isn’t in a wheelchair? There are a lot of people who are not in wheelchairs with blue badges. And how is it not fair on other people? She’s a leg amputee. She has mobility issues and they aren’t going to go away. Why can’t the FDP instead focus on the fact that a disabled person is being showcased in a talent that is mobility-oriented.

The Federation of Disabled People does not appear to be a national organisation. The only thing that comes up when I Google the name is the Brighton and Hove Federation of Disabled People. I also noticed that in every news article it is mentioned that her car is a Mercedes. I don’t know if the original story writer knew this or if it was pointed out by the FDP. Perhaps they don’t like rich relatively mobile amputees.


One Response to Badge Envy

  1. Pingback: Heather Mills

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