Samantha Rochard

My creative process.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

When will we get it right?

Having a differently-abled child allows me to peek into a world where not everything works for certain individuals. Recently my thoughts have been mulling on my soon to be 17year old and the possibility of him getting a driver's permit.
Then those thoughts jumped to my experience with disabled parking spaces in our lovely T&T.

My frustration with the malls and supermarkets come from various issues.
ISSUE #1               So, Long Circular Mall, and Starlite- you have Handicapped Parking...applause, applause..... but have you watched the disabled young lady who walks with a sever limp try to move the heavy cones that you insist must be placed to block the drivers? These cones are a HUGE inconvenience to the disabled driver who must come out and remove them...or wait until they can catch the attention of the security guard to actually use the space. MOVE THE CONES PLEASE!
ISSUE # 2              I use the handicapped parking spots when my son is with me. Even though he is mobile, long distances can be difficult and tiring. But EVERYTIME I get out to remove the cone, and park in one of those spaces, security guards come flying out of nowhere....admonishing me for using the space. As polite as I try to be in explaining why, some of them are just plain rude! Eventually I just ignore them and drive past into the space.....they then shut up when my son jumps out the front seat. I understand the reason for the inquiry....but you do not have to be rude.
ISSUE # 3          Size of the parking spot. In the USA, the American Disability Association has laid down the laws to the number of spaces and the sizes of these spaces. For every 26 - 50 cars spaces in the parking lot, there must be one car -handicapped spot; and one van loading spot.  I quote :"handicapped parking spots must be at least 96 inches wide and have access to a loading area that is 5 foot wide."

Read more: ADA Regulations for Handicap Parking |

There is a reason for this....imagine opening a door, trying to get a wheelchair, or walker up to the door for the person to get out. Extra space IS required. For those disabled who need a van due to the type of device being used - "Van accessible spots, which every lot is required to have, must have an 8 foot loading area, be marked with a "Van Accessible" sign and have 98 inches of vertical clearance."

So HILO MARAVAL... please make these accommodations for your customers for side loading....just one space will be fine. Long Circular Mall...your spots near the grocery which do not accommodate a side loading vehicle are just frustrating to all who need it...please fix the problem! You just need one....or remove the piece of pavement next to the handicapped spot...that'l do fine thank you.

ISSUE # 4                 The location of the Handicapped Space in relation to the building. Most of our shopping spaces and entertainment areas have it right. But the biggest horror is Mt. Hope Hospital. THE HOSPITAL!!!!!
The parking lot is so far away from the building that there is at least a five minute walk for a able- bodied person. Do you know how long that is for a Disabled person???? Even more recently, the Handicapped spots were blocked off and reserved for staff. With this being done, reserving spots for the Handicapped makes no sense. The last hospital visit I had with my disabled son went like this. I assumed that the handicapped parking will be near the entrance. I drove up to the  parking spots close to the entrance, and attempted to park. I was informed by the security guard that these spots were reserved for the doctors. To cut the story short, I had to leave a disabled child, who was in pain, sitting on the pavement near the entrance while I return to the car park to find a spot.....a process which took 15 min...all the while with my mind on this child left alone and in pain. I cannot understand why able bodied doctors need to closest spaces, but then our lack of understanding in this country which does not understand the concept of SERVICE....whatever...that's for another blog post.
I wondered how many persons in wheelchairs, walkers, or otherwise incapable of moving around independently have to go through this stress just to PARK..... a stupid policy that clearly needs to be reviewed. 

It is high time that consideration be given to Disabled persons, and regulating access is a HUGE part of it. The STANDARDS must become LAW, and it is a simple matter of legislating standards that are already put there, and enforcing their implementation into public spaces. 
I wonder when this will be seen as a serious matter.

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