News

It’s International Wheelchair Day! Do Your ‘Park’ to Celebrate

March 1st is International Wheelchair Day—an opportunity for wheelchair users to celebrate the independence their wheelchair provides.

If you don’t use a wheelchair, you can still commemorate the holiday by asking someone you know in a wheelchair what it means to them; learning about the day’s origins in 2008; or contributing to an accessible, inclusive world for people with a wide range of mobility challenges.

One way to do your part? Respect handicapped parking spots!

That may seem obvious, but David Slater, our director of Commercial Properties and Emergency Planning, says it makes a real difference. “All you have to do is park at the grocery store, or a big box store, and pay attention,” he says. “People break the rules all the time.”

This blog post from Spinalcord.com documents a wide range of everyday scofflaws—from sports car and motorcycle violators, to double-parkers and even police officers. How can you stay off this kind of list? Our team weighs in with their DOs and DON’Ts, below.

 


DON’T park in a handicapped spot without a disability placard or license plate…

It’s illegal, unethical, and carries a fine. In Connecticut, your first violation will cost $150, the second will cost  $250, and after a third time you may be towed and impounded. 

 

… even if you’re “just running into the store for a minute.”

That quick trip could turn into a half-hour or more, and you never know when someone who really needs the spot may arrive. What’s convenient for you could inconvenience another person—and land you in legal trouble.

 

See a box of diagonal lines next to a handicapped spot? DON’T park there, either!

There’s a rhyme and reason to these stripes, which offer space for accessible vehicles to deploy a wheelchair ramp and help passengers with disabilities exit and enter with ease and safety. There should be at least five feet from the end of the ramp to the next nearest car. “Leave more than enough space,” says Transportation Services Manager Bridget Kopet.

 

DON’T borrow and use someone else’s disability placard.

It’s unethical and illegal, and in Connecticut it could result in the placard being revoked from its rightful holder.

 

DON’T assume you can park in a handicapped space, even if you’re driving an accessible van for Ability Beyond or another organization that provides disability services.

“You still need a valid pass, and in Connecticut they are not issued on a lifetime basis,” Bridget says. They’re usually renewed every four to six years.

 

DO speak up if you see a violation.

If someone is parked in a handicapped spot without a placard or designated license plate, call local law enforcement and make a report.


Above all, DO be respectful!

“Society should be more aware of the needs of people with disabilities, from our retailers to our neighbors,” David says. There’s a reason these rules were thought up and put in the books.”

Since its founding in 2020, Breathe Equality (BE) has been busy:  making plans for the future, making a difference in the present, and making history as the agency’s first-ever employee resource group (ERG) since 1953.  The group formed after the murder of George Floyd sent shockwaves across the nation and…
Click here for the recording of the March 8, 2022 Family Call