Arliyah and Mackenzie Brown are both vision impaired and legally blind, and mum Hailey Brown says she does not qualify for a disabled parking permit. PICTURE: Matt Taylor.
Arliyah and Mackenzie Brown are both vision impaired and legally blind, and mum Hailey Brown says she does not qualify for a disabled parking permit. PICTURE: Matt Taylor.

‘Not disabled enough’ legally blind children barred from disability permit

TOWNSVILLE SISTERS Arliyah and Mackenzie Brown are both legally blind and need canes to walk around, but aren't considered "disabled enough" to qualify for a disability parking permit.

The girls were both born with Albinism, a condition where the hair, eyes and skin lack pigment, leaving them vision impaired.

Mum Hailey Brown said she and other families with children who are legally blind, had their applications for a permit rejected by the Department of Transport and Main Roads because a visual impairment did not meet the criteria.

"For me it really is a safety issue when I am trying to get into a shopping centre or wherever it may be and I have to literally guide the girls through a busy car park with pedestrian traffic as well as cars and bikes with my hands full with bags or a shopping trolley," she said.

"To me it's an accident waiting to happen, it's scary too … they're not considered disabled enough."

A Department of Transport and Main Roads spokeswoman said the current scheme was based on an applicant's ability to walk.

"Therefore, people with intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive and sensory impairments do not meet the eligibility criteria, unless they also have an impairment impacting their functional ability to walk," she said.

"Following community feedback, Transport and Main Roads is currently assessing the feasibility of expanding the Australian Disability Parking Permit Scheme criteria to include people with vision impairment."

Ms Brown said her daughters could not walk unaided without her as they needed to be guided, and the permits would make day to day life easier and safer for blind people.

"Within the vision impairment community I have met many families all over Australia, and that is really how the conversation came up about Queensland not allowing people with a visual impairment to be eligible for a disabled parking permit," she said.

"In many other states they do allow it and that's what I think makes it so frustrating."

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said the KAP was fighting to change the laws in Queensland, and bring the state in line with Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales which do recognise vision impairment.

"It's just the right thing to do … what I'm doing is investigating what has to be done to change this legislation and we're exploring options to introduce our own bill to parliament," Mr Dametto said.

"I can only imagine how hard it would be to navigate a busy carpark only being able to use a visual aid.

"I've closed my eyes and tried to imagine how I'd find my way around and the best place would be at the front of the shops as close as possible, this is discrimination against the blind."