Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday: Those BLUE Spots

I know you've seen these spots, everywhere you go... these beautifully painted parking spots, generally in blue but sometimes even white, that are for those with registered disabilities that seem to NEVER fill up, which brings the temptation to park there out of convenience because, "I'm only going in for one minute."

Sadly, this is an often overlooked violation of the law... with little repercussions being doled out, people are quite comfortable taking the risk. Nevermind the roughly 45 million Americans who are disabled and NEED these parking spots... spots that DO fill up, sadly often with the help of those who are not disabled.

There have been two instances that I have received a small piece of paper on my windshield reading something to the affect of:

"You're obviously NOT handicapped, so save these spots for those who are."

One included some choice rated-R words as well.

Highly offended?? YES! I hope everyone is educated enough to understand that disability takes many forms, many of which are undetectable from afar: congestive heart failure, joint problems, emphysema, cancer, paralysis... and yes, even being a parent to a child with hydranencephaly or other similarly debilitating conditions.

I was extremely hesitant to even apply for a handicap placard, even after being advised by my own son's pediatrician that I should for his safety and my own convenience. Why the hesitation? Because I am not handicapped & am perfectly capable of taking those extra steps to enter wherever it is I need to go.

Then I realized:

It isn't only about the steps, it's the extra room for loading and unloading and the amount of time spent in extreme weather.... my little guy, for example, does not control his own body temperature well at times; sometimes staying around the mid-80's or rising above 100 for no good reason!

While I still have a difficult time using Brayden's placard, I have managed to swallow my pride and do use it when I need to... when parking is difficult, unsafe for loading/unloading, and in the aforementioned extreme weather. These spots are sacred to those who truly need them to carry out the tasks of their day, they're not simply a convenience to whomever wants to take the offer. So, please don't be that person!


At the same time, there are people who DO take advantage of handicap privileges by either using a family member or friend's approved status for parking or just hoping that they will not get caught parking in these designated spots without any sort of reason.... a pretty safe bet, in most instances, since this law seems to be the most overlooked of them all!


There are even rules for availability of these parking spots, rules that are pretty well defined since the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect in 1990. First there are the architecture rules which map out the percentage of spots there need to be in a parking lot. 

They are roughly like this:
~1-25 overall parking spots, 1 HP spot
~26-100 parking spots, 5% HP spots
~over 100 parking spots, 2% HP spots

Placards, as well as permanent license plates, are received from the Department of Motor Vehicles who require a doctor's attestation except in some cases if it is not an obvious, visually-identifiable disability to a normal DMV worker. You cannot just stroll in there and apply without confirmation that this is a necessity.

So, instead of worrying over the fact that myself and my little cutie (who is obviously in a wheelchair, by the way) are not deserving of that special spot with extra space to the side for loading and unloading purposes... please look for those who are sincerely abusing these privileges and then report them! Not sure how?? There are apps for that:

Handicapped Parking Fraud
How Does it Work?
This site (HandicappedFraud.org) depends upon you to help in the effort of bringing attention to the offendor/s. When you see an offense:


~Don't confront the person. These people may be handicapped, and we don't want to create any hassle for them. Or, they may be law breakers, and could become very agitated at being pointed out.
~Record their license plate number
~Record their placard number (on the placard itself)
~Leave a post-it note on their car that says they've been reported at HandicappedFraud.org (available free from the site)


Our goal is to have hundreds or even thousands of uploads at the end of every month. A report will be generated and sent to each state's DMV. It is then DMV's opportunity to see trends from these reports, and track the placard number to the Doctor and patient. If abuse is detected, fines may be issued, and placards revoked. Both of these will bring awareness and change to this rampant problem.


When violators are caught red-handed, an officer can issue a ticket for $250.00 - $3,000.00 and they can be jailed for up to six months.


Then there is also Parking Mobility, complete with a handy FREE APP:


Parking Mobility



We Need Your Involvement!
Parking Mobility’s goal is to make communities more accessible by working with cities to improve disabled parking enforcement. To accomplish this, we need your continued help in the following ways.


Tell People!
The more people using Parking Mobility to report violations, the bigger our impact will be. Each additional user means more violations reported…more visibility of the issue…and a better argument in convincing your city to adopt Parking Mobility. Tell your friends, family, and charitable organizations looking for funding! In addition, please log in to the Parking Mobility website and link your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Once your social networks have been linked, Parking Mobility will post on your Wall and send a tweet each time you report a violation. This lets your network know you are using Parking Mobility and encourages others to get involved.


People do not need to have a disability to use (or want to use) Parking Mobility – they just need to appreciate the benefits: improving access for those with disabilities and raising money for their favorite charity!


Get Your City On Board!
We have thousands of users all over the world using Parking Mobility in over 140 cities, which is amazing. We need each of these cities to partner with Parking Mobility in order for the violation reports to be processed as tickets by the city. We are looking for individuals to work with others in their community to get each city to adopt Parking Mobility. If this sounds daunting, remember that your city government exists to respond to the needs of the community – and disabled parking is a huge need which has been overlooked. You are not alone, Parking Mobility can connect you with other organizations in your city who want to get it in place. Click here to find out how to get your city to adopt Parking Mobility.


Report Violations!
Keep reporting those violations and make your voice heard. Each violation you report makes a difference – improves accessibility, changes behavior to respect disabled parking and raises money for your favorite charity (20% to one of the 4 represented).


In case you're still unsure about these violations and how often it occurs, be on the lookout for this:
 
which happened to me personally, just days ago (though this photo was found via google on a paraplegic's blog about the perils of parking a handicap accessible van). Those perils are daily obstacles for others who rely on wheels to move, and not only the automobile variety. Our mobility specialist for Brayden's wheelchair and other necessary equipment has told me of many instances that he was literally trapped in or out of his car due to another's  inconsiderate actions... he's  in a wheelchair himself. 



"Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree."
~Marian Wright Edelman




1 comment:

  1. Oh my yes!! Haven't all of us parents of handicapped children been here and seen the abuse!! Once I came out of a doctor appointment in Anchorage, Alaska in January in negative 13 degree weather, to find that someone parked in the the stripes next to my wheelchair lift van CLEARLY marked with a sign that said we need six feet of room to put the lift down!! I had to take my then six year old daughter out of her wheelchair, lift her up into the van and climb in after her, lay her on the seat and then climb back out of the van to pick up her 50lb wheelchair and load it myself into the van, then tie it down and then pick her up and put her back into the chair while in the back of the van!!! All because someone was inconsiderate enough to park in the stripes which did not allow our lift to deploy!! PLEASE don't park in the stripes!!

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