Many people probably think they know everything about this topic, however, my experiences indicate there is more to using a disabled parking pass than the casual observer may believe. One of the main rules for using a disabled parking pass, of course, is that the user must actually, legitimately, and legally be disabled. (An upcoming post will provide my opinion on when not to use a disabled parking pass.) There are as many reasons for needing a disabled parking pass as there are for liking chocolate cake, but a fundamental reason is that the user should possess a physical limitation that prevents him/her from walking great distances. And, if this is the case, one should not hesitate about obtaining a disabled parking pass, including enlisting one’s physician in providing the necessary documentation to obtain one. My late mother, in her final years, walked slowly, then slowly and haltingly, then not at all. Those of us who took her from place to place could walk ably, however, as it became increasingly difficult for her to walk, parking in a disabled parking space allowed her to continue going places where she otherwise would have found difficult to go. It was obvious to everyone who saw us park in a disabled parking space that we needed to have preferential parking (although, at first, Mom objected to the idea of having a disabled parking pass due to its negative connotations about her physical condition). Other people, including some friends of mine, have disabilities than are less obvious than Mom’s age related walking difficulties. However, these people have legitimate disabilities that, while they may not be apparent upon first meeting them, preclude them from walking great distances. The point of this post is to remind those of us who see someone park in a disabled parking space not to judge whether or not he/she “deserves” to park in this premium place. And, if you don’t qualify for a disabled parking pass, be thankful for your good health!
My quick take on the concept of “when to use a disabled parking pass” is use it when you need it! While there are some people who use them when they don’t need them – stay tuned for more on that in another blog – there are also those whose sense of independence is such that they don’t want admit they need to use the disabled parking spaces. Sometimes one’s need for such things is not visible or otherwise noticeable. Other times, the person thinks their situation is not that bad. But, the additional safety and convenience or comfort provided by parking closer to one’s destination can be the difference in making the trip to the store, concert, or doctor something one can do independently or not doing because one can’t. I have observed my parents, Melissa’s mother, and some friends as, for one reason or another, their physical limitations took their toll and one of the adjustments they had to make was using these parking permits. Often that has meant me driving and parking in a disabled spot, to enable my disabled passenger to utilize the space. It is interesting to experience the looks of those who are not parking in those spaces. And for those people, to paraphrase Melissa, they are fortunate not to need to.