Before I get to the goods, let me first say the reason I’m writing this is not to rant, though a little of that might happen, but it is to inform, educate, and also let other disabled readers know that they are not alone in this frustrating act of ignorance.
In 1990, the passing of the Americans With Disabilities Act changed thousands of lives for the better. It is a civil rights law that granted protection of the disabled community from discrimination and now requires every public businesses to be accessible. It includes details like ramps onto sidewalks and building entrances, accessible hotel rooms, handicap parking, or accessible seating at the movie theater.
It is not fun being disabled or wheelchair bound but I have noticed there can be a “perk” once in awhile and some of those were created after the passing of the ADA law. For example, I always have a seat. I never have to worry about my legs being tired from standing all day, if I am at a crowded party I never have to claim “seat check”, and I never get tired walking around at a festival. You’re probably laughing and thinking “you’re right! That is a perk”… Some people would say the handicap parking is a perk too. I mean it is when you think about it. It’s in the front, usually open, seems convenient, sure, but that’s not how I see it. In matter of fact, I see handicap parking as a burden because of the thousands of able-bodied (AB) people who abuse and illegally use the “perks” of a placard every single day, like using your grandma’s placard when grandma isn’t around. This act leaves the handicapped (I hate that word) with EVEN MORE limited parking than originally intended. Despite all of this drama, the EVEN BIGGER reason it is a burden is because of a smaller detail, one you may have never even realized and I too was ignorant of this detail before my accident.
So what is it? It is the crossed-off spot adjacent to the van accessible parking that blocks 5ft-8ft of space for a wheelchair to transfer on/off the vehicles seat, a walker to safely enter/exit, and a 4ft ramp to safely deploy from the side door. That crossed-off space is what gives me the room for my side ramp to carefully deploy and my wheelchair to easily enter and exit the van. It’s the small details in my independence have the most significant effect. Most of the time, my ramp barely has enough room within the crossed-off spot. Which means if someone is parked a small 6 inches across their parking spot line, whether it’s a handicap spot or not, chances are I come VERY close to hitting your vehicle with my wheelchair. Whether I want to hit your car or not, this leaves me with no choice.
In the very rare chance I am able to find a handicap parking spot, typically I am cleared to exit the van without trouble. If I can’t find a handicapped spot with room to deploy a ramp, I will find a spot in the back and take up two parking spots while parking diagonally. But no matter what option I choose, I am still paranoid the entire time I am shopping that another car will block me out. What especially stinks is when this happens when it is raining or snowing.
So what am I left to do when this happens? I have a couple options. I could sit and wait for the driver to leave. I could call out your vehicle through the intercom in the building, ask you to move, and hopefully embarrass you (sorry – not sorry). Or my last option is to call the police, and you might be fined, charged, and the vehicle towed by the owners expense. This is not a pretty penny to pay which could have easily been avoided by taking five seconds to fix your parking job.
*Side note: I am the only person allowed to operate my vehicle, just like other adapted driving vehicles, therefore if I’m with a second person they are not authorized to move it.
Here’s how you can help stop this issue and create burden-free handicap parking:
- Share this article. This problem could easily be solved if everyone was enlightened and educated.
- If you see your car illegally parked, leave a kind note on their windshield informing them of the negative impact their parking has.
- If you are brave enough, call your local authorities in inform them of the illegal park job.
Because someone was too lazy to park correctly, they can affect a person’s independence at a very significant level. And by the way, when you are so dependent on help every day, even a little activity you CAN do independently means the world, so when someone takes that away, it can cause seriously emotional damage. And I’m not being dramatic. Be kind and park properly!
If you liked this article, please like, subscribe to my website, and share!
P.S. there are multiple ways handicap placards are in legally used. Make sure you are using yours correctly.