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How to get a seat on the tube when you have an invisible disability or condition

Written by gaytourism

The badge helps me find a seat so I don’t faint on the way to work | Photo: GSN

It was understandably concerning when I was semi-regularly almost passing out on the way to work.

I have previously been diagnosed as anemic so assumed it was that.

After a blood test came back as fine however, that was when I started to worry.

Another Doctor’s meeting later, and they were still baffled about what was the issue.

The Doctor did clarify however that the issue seemed to occur when I had been standing for a period of time.

This made sense. It was always while stood on a busy train commuting to work that I would become faint.

My blood pressure was checked while sitting down and then after standing. There was a very evident and drastic difference.

It was then the Doctor said to me: ‘You should probably get one of those “please offer me a seat” badges because we really can’t have you standing for long periods of time.”

The badge reads 'Please offer me a seat'

This should be rolled out nationwide… | Photo: thea_602 Instagram

Transport Accessibility Scheme

TfL trialled their ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’ in 2016. The scheme was officially launched in early 2017.

78% of users during the trial found it easier to get a seat. 95% of them said were likely to recommend getting the badge to someone else who may need it!

Getting an actual badge is super easy.

You simply head to the TfL website, order one and it arrives at your door a few days later.

You don’t need to provide any medical evidence of your condition, or even tell TfL what your condition is.

Along with the badge, you get a small card.

This can be used in case you don’t want to constantly wear the badge, and just want to alert people on select incidences when you need a seat.

The first day I received my badge, I didn’t wear it. In fact, I didn’t for a few days. And this was out of pure anxiety.

I was scared of drawing unnecessary attention to myself, and if people cornered me to question me about whether I really need a seat.

These fears were all blown completely out of the water however when I finally did wear the badge.

Reactions and responses

Reactions usually go one of two ways.

A minority of people will briefly catch a glimpse of the badge and then actively avoid looking properly so they can feign ignorance.

The badge isn’t subtle. It’s bright blue, and I usually wear a white coat.

They probably think I don’t notice their eyes dart away from me as soon as they clock the badge.

I do.

Most people react extremely positively however.

I’m usually offered a seat the moment people see my badge.

My anxiety means can never bring myself to actively ask someone for their seat, so sometimes I’m stood for a little while.

As soon as I turn and someone sitting down see’s my badge however, they usually apologize immediately for not having noticed my ‘little blue badge’ sooner.

Charlie traveling on a TfL bus

Charlie traveling on a TfL bus | Photo: Supplied

Could the badge help you?

While I had originally been overwhelmed with anxiety at the idea of wearing a bright blue badge, I’m so glad I do now.

It has certainly saved me on days where I’ve felt particularly faint.

I have since been diagnosed with a condition called vasovagal presyncope.

My natural blood pressure is on the lower end of the scale anyway, and this drops even more when I’ve been standing up for a while.

The low blood pressure triggers my nervous system and is what causes my body to overreact, and almost faint.

Thankfully, I always get a seat in time now – Or, I already have a seat and don’t have to worry about this happening!

Since talking about the badge openly to friends and how useful it has been for me, there are already one or two who also have an invisible conditions who are looking into getting the badge too.

And I’d suggest the same to everyone else!

It can be scary at first but is so important and good for your health. Don’t be scared to take care of yourself. You’ll be surprised to find that most people are actually quite understanding.

To order your badge head to:

For more information about Transport for London’s accessibility scheme’s head here:

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