Teen With Cerebral Palsy Has Powerful Message for Parking Spot Shamers
Robyn Lambird is an 18-year-old Australian video blogger whose YouTube clips have prompted all kinds of important discussions about disability. Her latest video covers accessibility.
“Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean that you use a wheelchair,” she begins. “Sometimes it has nothing to do with your legs or your mobility at all.” Lambird notes that many disabilities and illnesses are invisible. Given the rise in people being shamed for using parking spaces marked for people with disabilities, she wanted to speak up. The result is the must-watch video below.
Lambird has cerebral palsy and identifies as a part-time wheelchair user, so she’s experienced having others perceive her disability as visible and invisible.
“Even when I’m not using my wheelchair, I’m often glad to have the extra space of a disabled parking bay because I find getting in and out of the car and getting my legs in the right position and getting out without falling over quite difficult when there’s a car parked right next to me.”
She says it’s the same deal with accessible bathrooms, and then explains that sometimes she gets dirty looks when she uses the priority seat on the train. That reaction has pushed her to make some changes — but they’re changes she shouldn’t have to make:
“For this reason I’ve started taking a cane on the train sometimes as a visual indication to able-bodied people that I am in fact disabled and I do actually need that seat. But at the end of the day it shouldn’t be up to me or anybody else to prove to anyone else why they need access to these facilities.”
On why we shouldn’t question or judge someone for using an accessible space:
“If someone has a permit or is using an accessible facility, 99 percent of the time they probably need it. Especially when it comes to disabled parking permits — they’re not an easy thing to get. You have to have a medical professional filling out a form and it’s something that has to be renewed almost every year.”
As far as fights over parking spots, Lambird says most people’s hearts are in the right place, but they need to think before they speak and/or act:
“Now I know a lot of these people who have been leaving these notes or getting into these arguments have been trying to do the right thing. They haven’t seen the person as having a disability, and they’ve been trying to stop people without disabilities from using these facilities so that the people who really need them can. But at the end of the day, unless you actually know someone and know their story, it’s just too hard to tell whether they need access to these spaces or not.”
“Next time you go to stop someone, sit back and consider who you might be hurting if you get it wrong. And just consider whether it’s really necessary that you pass that judgment or make that comment.”
Watch her full video below: