Accessibility bouquet, and how about shade for “accessible” parking?

And an accessibility bouquet goes… to a staff member at a Telstra shop today. They offered wordlessly to serve me on-scooter or on-chair, without making a fuss. When the staff member started to explain the plans in spoken-word, I asked to be shown them in print because it was easier to process, and she rapidly acquiesced without any questions or raised eyebrow or ado. My business was concluded rapidly and successfully despite it being a pretty busy Saturday.

It was all good.

And no, this is not business as usual. Sadly.

Activism suggestion: how do we start campaigning for shade over accessible parking spots?

Parked cars in the Perth sun get way too hot at the best of times, no matter how able-bodied you are. But lots of people with disabilities have further issues with temperature regulation and/or high temperatures making them sick. People with spinal injuries can have major issues keeping their body temperature stable. People with multiple sclerosis can be made very ill very suddenly by overheating. People with CFS or fibro can have similar issues with temperature regulation or overheating. Head injuries or Parkinson’s disease or stroke or diabetes or lung cancer or extensive burns scars or who take certain medications can all reduce a person’s ability to stay safe in the heat.

Assembling a scooter exposed to the baking sun in a car park is no fun at all. People in body casts or braces can’t dress down effectively for the heat. You can probably name more. This isn’t a tiny or ‘niche’ issue. This affects a lot of us.

Putting simple shadecloth or tin or established-tree shades over accessible parking would be simple and inexpensive, especially given how few spots there actually are. But I regularly see lots of tree shade over the non-accessible spots, with the “accessible” spots out in the baking sun.

I expect this is almost entirely because of ignorance. How do we start getting the word out?

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14 replies

  1. I am v v impressed with the Telstra experience – they are so shit usually, am very glad the staff member was so on the ball.
    Re the shade issue – I’m in cars so rarely that it never occurred to me, but it’s a bloody good idea and something to definitely follow up on. I’d get in touch with ACROD WA, as they are responsible for parking permits, if not the actual maintanence of the the parking spots. They would be a good place to start, at least. Also, People With Disabilities WA, and some of the impairment specfic orgs that deal with the impairments you mentioned might be an idea. Local councils. Numbers are key of course, and we’d probably need medical backup to throw at the relevant parties. From past experience dealing with other access issues, it would probably take a bit of a push – (devil’s advocate) there would be wingeing about cost, maintanence, vandalism, making disability parking spots even more attractive to ABs, but nonetheless, still worth a go. Happy to cosign any RL campaigning on this and help within my limits.

  2. Thanks, Book Girl. It was only after I started listing the various impairments that could contribute to high temperature intolerance that I became staggered that this doesn’t seem to have been a visible issue anywhere, and wondering which large groups of people needing accessible parking _don’t_ have a need for shade!
    Re – whingeing about it making parking spots “more attractive” to ABs – graaaaagh. The attitude that people with disabilities should pay the price to police douchebags (and there will always be these douchebags no matter what – this is NOT OUR FAULT) drives me up the wall, as you probably know.

  3. I would try contacting the businesses that have accessible parking about the matter. I live in the US, and I called our local Wal-Mart about the fact that they put their cart corrals so far away from the handicapped parking spaces. I told them that I used those spaces, and because I have difficulty walking more than 20 or 30 feet without being able to sit down, I always left my shopping cart near my parking space (which I didn’t like doing). That it was counter-productive to have accessible parking close to the store and then make it impossible for disabled people to corral their carts easily after shopping.
    Not only did our local Wal-Mart move their cart corrals closer to the accessible parking spaces (right next to them in some cases), the Wal-Marts in most of the towns I’ve been to lately have done the same thing (where my son lives, 3 hours away from me, and the WM in the town 20 miles away, just as an example).
    I don’t know if anyone else had called and complained about it, but I was polite and made it as a suggestion that it would make it easier on the people who had to gather the carts out of the lot, easier on the people who have to drive through the parking lot (not having to try and miss hitting carts on windy days), and much easier on disabled customers. Seems like it worked, and for more than just my local store.

  4. Putting aside for the moment the reasonable issues of fair treatment of temperature-sensitive folk themselves, something for which political support is variable at best, there is also the safety aspect that impacts on the wider public.
    For temperature-sensitive /drivers/, overheating can have an unpredictable and somewhat delayed effect on driving capabilities. (I can’t drive, but raised temperatures increase my risk of seizures).
    This aspect /might/ even sway the “couldn’t give a toss about others” types not to resist political advocacy on disabled parking, even to the point of questioning those taking disabled parking… although this raises the extra problem for those with invisible disabilities (MS being one such condition).

  5. Balneus: That approach simply leads to calls to take our licences away, which I don’t think would be helpful at all. Right now we sort ourselves out, which means virtual confinement many months of a year unless we know that we’ll be able to be safe where we’re going.

  6. vesta44: Contacting individual businesses is all to the good, but it’s a piecemeal approach, and it puts the onus on individual people having experienced inaccessibility and then having to find the spoons to push a complaint through the system. I’m talking about systemic education and change.

  7. I was watching a check-out person serving a woman with a disability the other day in Coles and was so impressed I wrote to their head office to let them know how well their employee did. The PWD was able to sit at the front of the shop the whole time while her groceries were put through the check out, was politely served, asked if there was anything she required, and automatically assigned someone to push her trolley to the car for her. All done with a smile and no fuss.

  8. My massive brickbat for this weekend goes to Target. And every other discount department store I’ve ever been in. As soon as the floor staff see an aisle that’s actually spacious enough to negotiate with a scooter, they stick a giant display or rack or trolley or other pile of crap in it. As I was accompanied, we just pushed these aside/over/down wherever they occurred, until I could get through. But I really need to get writing some letters.

  9. Also lack of clear signs, so you have to know where you are going in order to get anything. A nuisance for TABs like me, but a huge “we don’t give a sh*t” for PWDs who may have a limited energy budget for getting around the store.

  10. I’d never thought about shade in accessible parking spots before, but it’s a very good point.

  11. Wow, it’s just so obvious once someone points it out.

  12. Hi Lauredhel
    I’ve just submitted a notice of motion for my next local council meeting about how we can do this in our area. If it gets up, I’ll let you know and will also post it out on our state-wide list of councillors so they can put it up in their area.

  13. So that’s how you get good customer service from telstra!

  14. Rich, can you explain what you mean?

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