5 Facts About Accessible Parking That Everyone Should Know

Written by Emily Rizza, content writer intern

Handicap-accessible parking is essential in a public space if physically disabled persons want to be active outside of the home without sacrificing independence and mobility. Because accessible parking is a critical safety feature, it is imperative that both handicapped and non-handicapped drivers understand the parking regulations that stand in a public lot. According to a survey by BraunAbility, a shocking 74 percent of people have personally witnessed the improper use of a handicap-accessible parking space. In order to ensure that all persons are abiding by the rules of accessible parking, here are 5 facts provided by BraunAbility that must be known and shared for increased awareness:

#1 The striped lines next to a handicap-accessible parking space indicate it is reserved for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. These spaces are wider than regular handicap accessible parking spaces, offering room for people to safely lower a ramp and enter and exit their vehicles.

#2 There is a difference between handicap accessible parking for cars and wheelchair-accessible vans. When the parking sign says, “Accessible Vans,” it is reserved for wheelchair-accessible vehicles only. Van accessible spaces are easily identified by a striped access aisle on the passenger side.

#3 Some people have hidden disabilities, and it may not be visibly apparent that they need a handicap-accessible spot. Not all people who require handicap parking access are reliant on wheelchairs. These spots are also intended for use by people with disabilities such as deafness or a recent injury.

#4 Businesses are required to meet a quota for handicap accessible spots. The number of handicap accessible parking spaces required depends on the total number of parking spaces in the lot, but at least one in every six handicap accessible spaces must be designated for a wheelchair accessible vehicle, according to the American Disabilities Act.

#5 Wheelchairs continue to increase in size, requiring more room to maneuver in and out of vehicles, and therefore need extra space in a parking spot for the wheelchair user to safely access a fully deployed ramp.

(Create an Accessible Lifestyle, Cision PR Newswire)

Reminder: it is not acceptable to park in a handicap accessible space, even if it’s ‘just for a few minutes,’ without a proper permit.

BraunAbility–a leading manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles and wheelchair lifts–has designed a “Save My Spot” campaign, which serves to educate the public about “the meaning and importance of handicap accessible parking.” Please join BraunAbility in its efforts to promote mobility independence and awareness, and share the facts with your friends and family to ensure that disability rights and physical safety thrive in the public sphere.

WholeHome Program Provides Accessible Homes for Maryland Seniors

Partnered with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Maryland Department of Aging (MDoA), the Maryland Accessible Homes for Seniors program is available to low-income senior citizens who need to improve the accessibility of their homes. Improvements offered by the WholeHome program include the installation of ramps, railings, and grab bars, as well as the widening of doorways and entrances. Funded by the Community Development Authority’s Special Loan Program, the Accessible Homes for Seniors program provides senior citizens deemed eligible upon application with a deferred payment loan of 30 years, to be repaid at the sale, at the transfer the home’s ownership, or when the loan recipient moves houses.

To be considered eligible for the WholeHome program, applicants must be Maryland residents ver the age of 55 with an income that is no greater than 80% of the Maryland median or 80% of the Washington, D.C. MSA median. Additionally, the home in question must be located in Maryland, structurally sound and up to health code. The senior applicant must own the home–unless he or she is living with family members–and must be present while alterations and improvements are being made. An eligible applicant must not have any pending financial cases and cannot owe back taxes on the house.

The Maryland Accessible Homes for Seniors program, via the WholeHome program, lists several home accessibility improvements included upon acceptance:

“Addition of exterior ramps or stair lifts
Widening of doorways
Addition of hand railing
Bathroom modifications, such as adding grab bars, a hand held shower attachment, or a bathtub or shower seat
Addition of lever handles for faucets and doors
Addition of rocker light switches and/or relocation of electrical outlets
Addition of lighting
Addition or renovation of a first floor bathroom
Addition of a first floor bedroom
Relocation of the laundry area
Closet adjustments”

https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/longtermcare/resources/md-accessible-homes-seniors.html

If you are a physically impaired, low-income senior citizen in Maryland looking to increase the accessibility of your home, you may fill out an application online (http://dhcd.maryland.gov/Residents/Documents/ahsp/ahsp_application.pdf), or pick one up at your county Maryland Access Point Agency or local County Housing Office. For more information, call DHCD at 301-429-7821 or 301-429-7847.

New Accessibility Officer for NYC Transit Marks Progress for Accessible Transportation

Known worldwide for its bustling crowds, speedy efficiency, and fast walkers with little patience, New York City has never been a contending vacation or living option for those impaired by physical disabilities–until now. The MTA has just hired its first accessibility officer, Alex Elegudin, 34, to increase the ease of transport for disabled persons in the city–an essential part of everyday life in an urban environment. Both a native of Brooklyn and a wheelchair user of 15 years, Elegudin has personal experience with the difficulties of navigating public transportation in a busy city and is dedicated to improving the subway experience for the handicapped. President of NYC Transit, Andy Byford, has hired Elegudin in an effort to make accessibility a top priority–particularly concerning the safety the Access-A-Ride service elevators which are notorious for their unreliability–and has issued a Fast Forward plan which ensures an accessible station for riders within two stops.

Co-founder of the non-profit group Wheeling Forward and former attorney for the TLC as its accessibility program manager, Elegudin is more than equipped to create reform within NYC public transit. In fact, MTA officials have already revealed a model for a new express bus with a wheelchair ramp, and have also announced the installment new elevators in the F and L line station at 14th St. in Manhattan. According to Elegudin, the key to progress in the accessibility of subway transportation is communication; his goal is to voice the needs of people with mobility impairments and to employ informed advice to enact positive change.

If your physical disability has stopped you from visiting or moving to the Big Apple, don’t cross it off of your bucket list yet; rejoice in the movement for increased accessibility and believe in a future where city planning, transportation, and infrastructure are inclusive to all needs and abilities.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Defining Freedom with Disabilities

Every Fourth of July, Americans commemorate the historic ratification of the Declaration of Independence. Hot dogs and fireworks distinguish the day as distinctly celebratory. While reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in school, memorizing the plotline of National Treasure, and voting for the first time at age 18 are all rites of passage in the lives of U.S. citizens, there’s something especially patriotic about this midsummer holiday.

At the core of our Independence Day celebration stands an unspoken understanding of the three main ideals outlined within the Declaration’s famous preamble: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While the government certainly neglected to secure those inalienable rights for all its people for many years following the document’s ratification, the phrase now seems to exist at the forefront of our national conscious.

From a young age, we are taught that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are foundational to a successful livelihood. The concept of freedom is embedded deeply within American culture and pops up in conversation regularly; passionate discussions are often sparked by bumper stickers, memes, viral videos and more.

Freedom is a theme in the life of every American– but what does it mean for those with disabilities? How do we define life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for a community that faces systematic and societal challenges?

The series Disability History of the official National Park Service website describes the experiences of Americans with disabilities in various aspects. One critical quote from the series describes the Americans with Disabilities Act, stating: “the ADA is a major civil rights law that prohibits discrimination of people with disabilities in many aspects of public life.”

This vital legislation was only one of many groundbreaking steps toward making the quintessential American dream more possible for all citizens. Legal efforts made to increase the autonomy of Americans with disabilities are representative of real progress in increasing access to education, employment, transportation, and more.

However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2017 unemployment rate for persons with disabilities was more than twice the national average. With government benefits for the disabled facing constant cuts and instability and the increasingly difficult search for accessible housing, the lofty ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness become much less tangible for the community to achieve.

The issue of disability rights does not only directly affect those with disabilities but also those who are able-bodied.

Founder and executive director Tamara Gallman of Disability Partnerships says, “We should all care about disability rights because anyone can become a part of the community at any moment. I went to sleep the night of May 3, 2011 as an able-bodied person. On May 4, 2011, I became a paraplegic as a result of a traumatic accident.”

Any of us can become disabled. Even if we continue in life as able-bodied individuals, many of us have close family or friends with a disability. To those of us who don’t know anyone in the disabled community, their basic human rights are indisputable.

What can be done to help their advancement in this country?

Writing letters, signing petitions, and supporting online crowdfunding efforts are certainly a good beginning. As it says on the National Park Service website, “the disability rights movement continues to work hard for equal rights.” Nonprofit organizations such as Disability Partnerships do an incredible amount for the community by promoting nationwide movements, educating the public on the disabled experience, and even pioneering an initiative creating a community both accessible and sustainable.

This Fourth of July, let’s eat hotdogs and potato salad, light sparklers, and post blurry videos of fireworks. Let’s go visit our family, spend time with friends, and run on the sand of the nation’s beautiful beaches. Let’s celebrate our freedoms – our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And this year, let’s make it possible for our friends with disabilities to celebrate the same opportunity with us.

Virginia Faust, Content Writing Intern

July 2018

 

Source to the National Park Service article:

https://www.nps.gov/articles/disabilityhistoryrightsmovement.htm