How many of you have parked in, or blocked, a disabled parking space (or ramp) for convenience? Just a quick run inside–it won’t hurt anyone, right? Well, it might not hurt anyone, but it terribly insensitive.
Last night, I dropped off my fiance at work and saw that a motorcyclist had parked his or her bike in the loading zone between two disable parking spots, rendering the loading area completely useless (and therefore the spots very useless). The nerve! Perhaps the biker thought it was more considerate to take that space than a standard parking space (the latter of which can be annoying indeed, but it isn’t illegal or nearly as insensitive). That driver made a misguided decision. Imagine being a person in a wheel chair. Not only might you have to traverse snow-piled sidewalks in the winter (often rendering you home-bound in snowy conditions), but getting around in general can be difficult. So consider the frustration one might feel if they could not utilize the parking area designated for loading and unloading wheel chairs. Especially when the spots are there specifically for the disabled. Frustrating.
With this in mind, here is some information to know and some easy things you can do to be more considerate to disabled individuals:
- Shovel the snow off your sidewalks after the snowplows have passed (so the person can get to the street).
- Never ever park in a disabled spot (or loading area) if you do not have the correct certification.
- Don’t assume a disabled person is incapable of doing things for themselves. If they need help, they will ask. You can offer assistance, but be sure to always ask first before acting.
- Never pet a guide dog or feed them treats.
- Guide animals are allowed in all public places including restaurants and hotels.
- Don’t touch a person’s wheelchair or scooter without permission. To many, it is an extension of their body, making that action offensive or off-putting.
- Don’t ask a person’s disability. That is incredibly inappropriate.
- Don’t assume that a disability is visible from the exterior. Many illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis, may not be visibly in its early stages.
- Hold doors, hold elevators, hit the disabled door-opener button, press the elevator floor, and many other courteous actions which you would do for anyone!
- Support businesses run by the disabled. An example of this is Uptown Bill’s Small Mall in Iowa City, Iowa. Click on the link to read Bill’s story.
- Volunteer for associations that assist the disabled.
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