This week, for the first time ever, epilepsy is featuring as part of a high profile poster campaign across London’s underground and bus networks.
Transport for London (TfL) first launched its priority seating initiative in 2016, trialling a badge and card to show that people with hidden disabilities, such as epilepsy, may require a seat on the tube, train or bus.
Now the scheme has been backed with a network-wide poster campaign, including Epilepsy Society’s very own ‘poster boy’ Tom Ryan-Elliott who has epilepsy. So every day this week (week commencing 23 April 2018), there will be posters across all stations and platforms, alongside the tube escalators and in bus shelters.
And with four million tube journeys and eight million bus journeys made each day across London, TfL is confident that the campaign will have a wide reach, raising awareness that not all disabilities are instantly visible. As well as epilepsy, the campaign is focusing on a range of hidden disabilities and conditions incuding cancer, visual impairments, anxiety, Aspergers and pregnancy.
Epilepsy Society’s ‘poster boy’ Tom, 27, has simple focal seizures which often progress into convulsive seizures. Although his seizures only usually last a couple of minutes, he is often mistaken for being drunk.
Tom knows that sitting down on a train or tube can help to avert a seizure, but because his disability is hidden and he is an otherwise healthy young man, he feels people don’t understand it when he sits in a priority seat. A badge or card helps to communicate the fact that he has a hidden disability.