Disabled parking permit harassment

Parking with Disabilites

 I have written about this before but I think it’s a good time for a refresher. All too often I see things from the disabled community about how a local “hero” has left a note shunning them for not being disabled and parking in a disabled spot; or, they even go a step further and resort to verbal harassment (like one of my experiences here). Let’s get this out of the way: I know the sign has a wheelchair on it but that, in no way, represents the entire disabled community. Many disabilities, mine included, are not visible (minus the apparent drunken stupor that MS has gifted me). So I thought I would share what actually qualifies a person for a disabled parking pass in Washington state. You might be surprised.

Who is eligible?

Washington State Disabled Parking qualifications:
  • Can’t walk 200 ft without stopping
  • Walking is limited by arthritis, neurological or orthopedic condition
  • Can’t walk without the use of or assistance from a brace, cane, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device
  • You use portable oxygen
  • You’re restricted by lung disease
  • You’re impaired by cardiovascular disease or cardiac condition
  • You have a disability resulting from an acute sensitivity to automobile emissions which limits or impairs your ability to walk
  • You’re legally blind and have limited mobility
  • You have acute sensitivity to light associated with a form of porphyria that would significantly benefit from a decrease in exposure to light

(source)

Disabilities manifest in so many different ways that it’s nearly impossible to determine whether someone is or isn’t disabled by just looking at them. You can’t know a person’s medical or history or physical abilities by simply looking at them; it doesn’t matter how young or old someone looks, what they dress like, or whether they can walk without assistive devices. Rest assured, a qualified doctor is required to sign off on the application for a disabled placard or license plate, and the placard or license plate themselves are issued by the Department of Licensing.

Still think they are faking it?

So what should you do if you suspect a fraudulent disabled parker? Report it to the local police. Yes, call 911 to report them. Please do not yell, comment, leave nasty notes for us, or otherwise harass us. We are required to carry documentation for our pass, but we only have to furnish it to police.

As frustrating as it can be not having access to a disabled parking spot, it is much worse to be judged and side-eyed for using it. I guess what i’m getting at is: please don’t harass others in the name of sticking up for me. In my experience, you end up harming more than you’re helping.

If you do want to do something constructive for the community, shoot us a smile every once in awhile. You might be surprised…we don’t get them often.

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Here is a special little gem I wrote after getting harassed by a community watchdog while legitimately parking in a handicap spot. In her defense it was for my own good.


 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | A refresher course in manners
4:12 PM, Nov 29, 2012
letters
Kellen Prouse, Bremerton

A refresher course in manners

“You don’t look very handicapped to me!” she yelled in a condescending tone. Her mind was made up before I even got out of the car. As soon as she saw my cane, the older lady continued with “Oh good, I’m glad that you are,” and without remorse explained that she does this all the time … and it’s for my own good.

Looking disabled has nothing to do with being disabled. I’m 27 and have severe Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve had my handicap-parking permit for 2 years. I have tattoos and piercings, but I’m also a loving father and husband and I support my community. Multiple Sclerosis has left me blind and paralyzed at times. Some days are better than others; on the really good days I might be able to go without my cane. I am constantly fighting double vision and the fatigue and weakness are always there.

I’m not old, my appearance isn’t conventional, and without my cane you might not know I’m disabled. It’s not easy to come to terms with my disease, and being judged and harassed by others makes it all the more painful. My point is this: you don’t know the struggles others are going through based on their looks alone. Be kind and think before you speak, or you may just do more harm than good.

 

 

Have you ever wondered what the requirements are for a disabled parking permit? You might be surprised at how many you can’t physically see. Check out the Washington State DOL for the entire list, if you’re curious.

http://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/parkingreqs.html

Original article here.