Parking For the Disabled

By

Meena Dhanjal Outlaw

Just recently, I drove into a parking lot and as I got ready to park my van, I noticed a car already parked there whereby the driver was unloading some items.  I pulled down my window and poked my head out with a big smile.Roblox HackBigo Live Beans HackYUGIOH DUEL LINKS HACKPokemon Duel HackRoblox HackPixel Gun 3d HackGrowtopia HackClash Royale Hackmy cafe recipes stories hackMobile Legends HackMobile Strike Hack

“Hi, I need the parking spot so I can let down my ramp to get my wheelchair and me out”.  I said meekly.

“I will move in a minute. I have to unload all these items, is this okay with you?” He rebukes with his left hand waving at me as he comes closer to the driver side of the van.

I sat there in a mist of bewilderment just watching this young man as he continued to pull his items out of the vehicle, go into the building to return to do the same thing.

Then, a moment of clarity hit me, and I could feel anger rise up within me as I pulled down my window again.

“Sir, I am going to give you exactly two seconds to move your car otherwise I will call the cops and have it towed.  You are in violation. You neither have a disabled parking tag or any reason to be in that spot, whereas I need that space in order to even exit my vehicle to go inside!”

He uttered some blurbs as he sat inside his car and backed out.  As I pulled in the valet parker also got into his vehicle in the only other disabled space next to me to move his car.

This is just one of many incidents that I have encountered, although I haven’t had to get so verbal as this in a very long time. Normally, I am able to resolve situations as this without conflict.

My husband, on the other hand, is very confrontational when he sees someone illegally park in a disabled parking spot.  It wasn’t long ago that he had gone into the store, only to return with the driver of the vehicle that parked on the lines next to the disabled parking space.  The driver was an undercover police officer.

The same has happened at church, the grocery store, airports and more.  I also know from talking with others in the disabled community that I am not the only one that encounters this on a daily basis.

In fact, I was just speaking with a friend on the phone the other day, when all of a sudden she said,

“Hold on just a minute”, I hear, “Sir, I have been waiting here for fifteen minutes, can you move your car because I need to park my car and get my ramp down. I am in a wheelchair and need that space in order to get out.”

I could hear him come back with an excuse that he just was parked there for a moment, but could not quite hear the rest of his explanation. Yet, what I did take from this is how my friend had been sitting there waiting for the parking spot she needed to go into the grocery store for the duration of our phone call.  The other point I took from this was how we as a disabled community have become used to this treatment.

So, it beckons the questions, what is the deal with parking?  What is with all the different color parking tags, and why does a person with a van need at least eight feet clearance beside them?

I can definitely tell you that I need at least eight feet clearance because, by the time my ramp comes down after I have parked my van, I now need enough clearance to wheel down in my power wheelchair and off the ramp.  Then, I require enough space to turn my wheelchair to the direction of where I am heading.

In researching this topic even further I found out that we should not feel bad for standing up for what is our right.  It is also safe to clarify that this is not preferential treatment like many in society seems to think.

State and local governments issue accessible parking placards or license plates. The blue accessible parking placard is the most common, but some states issue red placards for temporary disabilities.

If a person has a disability that limits their ability to walk a long distance, then they may be eligible to receive a placard.  People with vision loss may also be eligible for a placard. A placard may even be used when transporting a person with a disability and does not necessarily have to be used by the driver.

If a person unlawfully parks in an accessible parking space, then they may be subject to fine or other penalties; local laws determine these penalties.

“Disability” means a condition in which a person has:

A mobility problem that substantially impairs a person’s ability to ambulate (walk); or

Visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses; or visual acuity of more than 20/200 but with a limited field of vision in which the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle 20 degrees or less.

(Transportation code 681.001 [2]

A mobility problem that substantially impairs a person’s ability to ambulate (walk) means that the person:

Cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest; or

Cannot walk without the use of assistance from an assistance device, including a brace, a cane, a crutch, another person, or a prosthetic device; or cannot ambulate without a wheelchair or similar device; or is restricted by lung disease to the extent that the person’s forced respiratory expiratory volume for one second, measured by spirometry, is less than one liter, or the arterial oxygen tension is less than 60 millimeters of mercury on room air at rest; or uses portable oxygen; or has cardiac condition to the extent that the person’s functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to standards set by the American Heart Association; or is severely limited in the ability to walk because of arthritic, neurological or orthopedic condition; or has a disorder of the foot, that in the opinion of a person licensed to practice podiatry in this state or in a state adjacent to this state limits or impairs the person’s ability to work; or has another debilitating condition that, in the opinion of a physician licensed to practice medicine in this state or a state adjacent to this state or authorized by applicable law to practice medicine in a hospital or other health facility of the Veterans Administration, limits or impairs the person’s ability to walk.

(Transportation code 681.001 [5]

These are a few facts about Accessible parking in Texas.  For more information on what the rights that a permitted disabled parking recipient has, log on to http://gov.texas.gov/files/disabilities/Accessible_Parking_for_Texans_with_Disabilities_2011.pdf

However, in my mind of a woman that functions from wheelchair that also happens to drive from my children’s’ schools to the grocery store, not to mention, work, the gas station, and maybe to some fun extracurricular activities such as a movie theater or even a five star venue, I always seem to come back to the same thought when it comes to violators.  If this were your spouse, your child, your grandparent, your friend, would you think twice about blocking their entrance to having a life too?

I also feel I have to mention that it is not a privilege that I have a parking spot. It didn’t say on the ground, “This is for Meena Dhanjal Outlaw”. It clearly has a disabled placard logo because that is what I am.  Disabled and unable to park in the mounds of parking available for every other person who doesn’t have a disability, yet they choose that one spot to ‘stop in’ or ‘unload’.

I also like to think that the civil rights movement included the disabled because beyond our wheelchairs, crutches, or vision problems, we are very much human.

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