Parking in a regular space
Having handicap plates doesn’t preclude us from parking in any old spot.
Many people with ties to the disability community have written about
the stigma of parking in a handicap spot. If you browse The Mighty,
you’ll find them in themighty.com. We’ve eichefam.net/2017/12/21/on-parking-and-accessibility
too! Even though the most common situation is when it involves an
invisible disability, we’ve still encountered loud and vocal people who
don’t care, don’t notice our plates — rather than having a placard
hanging from our rear view mirror — or simply don’t see the large
wheelchair right away.
But I digress. That’s really not the purpose of this post. Rather,
it’s the opposite: the times when we (or people we know who also have
handicap plates or a placard) have parked in a regular, non-handicap
You wouldn’t think that anyone would have a problem with this. It
should be a non-issue, but it’s happened a surprising number of times.
Someone — a stranger, who doesn’t know us from Adam — sees us park in a
(I hesitate to say “normal”) spot, and they get upset.
“You can’t park there!”
Imagine our confusion, especially the first time it happened. I mean really, we were just dumbfounded. Speechless.
“You have a disabled plate. You have to park in a disabled spot.”
No, that’s not how this works. I should not — we should not —
have to convince anyone that the handicap plate doesn’t constrain where
we can park, that it simply gives us permission to park where most
We have spent more hours than we can recount defending our daughter Namine. Most
of the time, it’s been to doctors, nurses, or other medical staff.
Occasionally, it’s been to coaches or other parents, even eichefam.net/2019/03/28/yelling-at-police.
There was also that one time at a park when someone tried to steal
Namine’s wheelchair. We are, of course, willing to fight for her. We
have proven it time and again. But we do not cherish drama, nor do we go
looking for a fight, verbal or otherwise.
So please. Please, please, please do not accost anyone parking. If
someone with a handicap plate or placard is parking in a non-handicap
spot, leave them alone. They are allowed to park there.
If someone without a handicap plate or placard is parking in a handicap spot, also
leave them alone. Maybe they do have a placard but forgot it. (Or, as
has happened to us: a family member had taken Namine but we neglected to
give them our placard.) Their disability may not be visible. You don’t
know them; give them the benefit of the doubt. Give it to them, as you
would appreciate it given to you.
This story was originally published on eichefam.net/2022/04/07/parking-in-a-regular-space.