Written By Frank Bentley
So, the short answer to why I don’t park in accessible parking spaces is simple:
Because it’s the right thing to do.
The long answer is this:
Almost 30 years ago one of the most important civil rights laws was passed and signed into law. This law made it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities. Now, I’m sure you are asking yourself “How does a parking space discriminate against someone?” While it may be different than the usual way we think about discrimination, the root of the problem comes down to segregation.
Most people will not think that giving certain people a “better” parking space has anything to do with segregation, but I would challenge you to think about inclusion. We as a society have the ability to choose who we include in our activities. I feel that people with disabilities have a hard time including themselves in public activities.
People with impairments can be challenged and intimidated by the simple acts of going to the mall for shopping or going to a sporting event for recreation. The Americans with Disabilities Act mandated that we include more people into our day to day lives. However, I see daily acts that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act that prohibit people from being included.
How many times have you witnessed people parking in the blue spot to run into a store, or quickly drop something off, or just because it was more convenient. The blue spaces are mandated so a conversion van has enough room to lower a ramp, so that someone who uses crutches is not totally worn out by the time they get to the front door, and to assist parents who are helping children learning to walk many years after they were supposed to.
In 2012 there were 647,000 people in the state of South Carolina with a disability. That’s almost 14% of the population. I’d challenge you to look around the stores you visit, the events you attend, and churches where you worship and consider if 1 out of 10 people with you have a disability. In my experience, people with disabilities love all those activities the same way you do, but it’s just too hard for them to get out and do these things.
As a result, I’m going to do anything I can to make life a little more inclusive. I hope you will too!
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