I came across these two articles last week and I think they really sum up the spectrum of feelings I have being a disabled person who uses handicapped parking stalls. They also inspired me to think more on the topic as well.
This first one was written by a girl who became wheelchair-bound later in life and realized how much abuse there is with the use of handicapped placards. I can’t tell you how many Hummers or lifted trucks I’ve seen in handicapped spots or how many times people have parked there, even at work, “real quick” just to drop something off. Or how many times people have stood to have conversations in handicapped parking stalls.
That brings me to the next article though. Conversely, I’ve also experienced many accusations from other people when I’ve parked in these spots because I don’t “look” disabled. Oftentimes, this can be more frustrating for me than people potentially abusing their parking privileges. But it makes an excellent point also, a point that one of the commentors in the first article actually made. It goes to show that you can’t always judge people parking in the handicapped spots, no matter how much they might not look like they need it and no matter what kind of car they drive. I admittedly have no idea what the requirements are to even get a handicapped placard. I’ve just always had mine.
I do still think there’s a terrible abuse of the handicapped placard system across the country. I had a guy in college fully admit he kept renewing his temporary placard after he had knee surgery, even when he didn’t need it anymore, because he didn’t feel like having to drive around and look for a parking spot before class. I want people to be more aware when they choose wear to stand or think they’re just going to be parked there for a minute. But I also have to work myself on not jumping to judgement when it comes to other people. Just like I don’t want people to assume things about me, I can’t assume things about them. You never know what kind of disability someone may have. My jumping to conclusions about other people makes me no better than those who jump to conclusions about me. Just because I have a disability doesn’t give me the right to assume things about other people. So I thank these two authors for illuminating two very important parts of this issue.