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Wheelchair Users Prioritized in the Parking Lot?
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Wheelchair Users Prioritized in the Parking Lot?

In Arizona, it is law that anyone with a disability plate or placard receives a right to park in any free spot legally. The new bill, which is awaiting a legislative process would, however, widen the rights of the disabled people and created a new category of spots which would be permanently restricted to the people in wheelchairs. According to the creator of the bill, Noel Campbell, the future law may contribute to the greater availability of van-accessible spots which are used mainly by the wheelchair users. The critiques, however, don´t agree and state that the overall comfort for the disabled people would reduce.

The Reasons For the Bill

One of the basic causes of the bill is that the handicapped people sometimes can't find the available spot when driving to a mall or other facilities. The problem is especially with the van-accessible spaces which are very frequently occupied by people with other disabilities. There is a huge problem when a disabled person - a wheelchair user cannot reach a space which would allow him/her to get out of the car mainly if there is another van on the spot.

Simple or Complicated Problem?

On the other hand, the initiative of Arizona's lawmakers is commented on as oversimplifying by the disability-rights advocates. The main challenges mentioned by the experts are that abilities of people can vary and change as well as their vehicles and means of transport. The other problem is the variety of mobility devices. Some people use wheelchair 24/7, some only for some occasions. The biggest issue could be with the nature of the sign - some disabled people could be offended by the fact that they everybody can see that they are wheelchair users by their spot in the parking lot. Together with the fact that disabled people are very frequently targets of thieveries or robberies, the safety concerns related to the bill should be taken into a consideration.

The Main Critiques

The main issue according to Phil Pangrazio, a chairman of Ability360 is that the legislatures are creating the law without any means to enforce it. The spots would be used by disabled people without any regard to the character of their disability. It is impossible to legitimate them to find out that they don´t use the wheelchair when they are the holders of the disability plate. People with the disability without the need of wheelchair could lose their spot since the facilities may offer only one van-accessible spot for a disabled person. In the end, the law could lead to the opposite effect than that intentioned. The members and advocates of the disabled community would rather invest in the education of the able people than to impose the law without any possibility of enforcement.

The creators of the law, however, comment that the people with different types of disability can use standard parking spaces and thus reserve the particular spots for those who need them. The bill passed the House of Representatives of Arizona even though the representatives pledged for having a discussion with the members of the disabled community.

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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