Popular ‘face mask exempt’ badges help disabled people indicate their exempt status to others
Disabled access review site Euan’s Guide is aiming to reduce the possibility of disabled people being challenged or judged for not wearing a face mask by creating simple and effective badges to indicate their exemption to others.
The ‘face mask exempt badges’ are available to order online for those who are unable to wear a mask. The simple badges contain the charity’s logo, website address, along with the clear and concise message: “face mask exempt.”
According to the charity, the motivation behind the badges is to make people feel more comfortable visiting places where the majority of people will be wearing face coverings.
Euan’s Guide stresses that its badges are not designed to be proof of exemption from wearing a face mask, but instead a way to communicate disabled people’s exempt status to others.
At the moment, the charity has paused badge requests due to receiving “exceptionally high demand”, as it works to fulfil requests that have already been placed.
The production of these badges comes as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are making it compulsory for people to wear face masks in certain settings.
In England, it is now a legal requirement to wear a face covering when travelling on public transport. From the 24th of July, wearing a face covering will become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England.
In Scotland, face coverings are also mandatory on public transport and public transport premises. It is now compulsory for people to wear face masks in shops in Scotland.
In Northern Ireland, people are now required to face masks on public transport.
England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, however, allow for exemptions in specific cases, including if the person has a disability that means they cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering.
In Wales, there is currently no legal requirement to wear face coverings when out and about. However, from the 27th of July, people will be required to wear face masks on public transport in Wales.
The aim of the badges is to quickly signal to others why that individual is not wearing a mask, reducing the chances of being judged or questioned.
Research from Disability Rights UK noted that 60 per cent of people who cannot wear a face covering fear being challenged for not wearing one – something the charity says was it was hearing from its users.
“We know how upsetting it can be to be confronted by a stranger and so our hope is that our badges will do the talking on your behalf,” says Euan’s Guide.
With a limited number of face masks exempt badges available to order free of charge, the charity is requesting people only order as many as they need and is also asking for donations to help cover the cost of production.
“Donating helps us cover some of the costs involved,” says the charity.
“It is costing us £10 to send out badges to five people, so if you can pay it forward you will help ensure we can keep offering badges for longer.”