Living Life

Jesus, Me, and the Kitchen Table

Getting Around

It seems that nearly every profession and many causes have a national holiday.  In April we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week and so far in May we have paid tribute to all those in the nursing field.  But one you may not have heard of for the month of May is National Mobility Awareness.  According to the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association website, in North America over 18 million people live with restricted mobility.  But you don’t have to be in a wheelchair to have restricted mobility. There are numerous health conditions which can limit one’s mobility such as spinal cord injury, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and more. People with limited mobility may use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or crutches to move around.

People with mobility restrictions either cannot walk or can only walk very short distances. They may find it hard to move around in small places, negotiate steps, open doors, carry items (while using mobility devices), reaching things on high shelves, or picking up objects dropped on the floor, balancing, standing or standing for prolonged periods. Weather can be a concern as well.  If it is raining how will one hold an umbrella and push a wheelchair?

Another aspect to think bout is parking spots.  There are two basic kinds of parking spaces reserved for those with restrictive mobility. You have the “Reserved Parking” and “Reserved Parking Van Accessible” handicap parking spaces. The first type is for any vehicle properly displaying a handicap placard or handicap license plates.  The “Van Accessible” spots are for, well, VANS! That’s because these spots are accompanied by a wide set of stripes to the left or right of the space. Those stripes allow a van ramp or a lift to be used.  Drivers should never park on the stripes!  Doing so prevents a person who is in a wheelchair accessible van from entering or exiting their vehicle and readers that parking space useless.

During the month of May the National Mobility Equipment Dealers is giving away several vehicles that are accessible.You can go to their website at http://www.nmeda.org and vote for the candidate of your choice to win one of these vehicles.  These vehicles are not cheap.  If you take the cost of an average new minivan, you are looking at $30-40,000. Add on the modifications and you can easily be looking at an additional $20,000.

As you are out and about and enjoying your mobility this month be aware of those around you who can’t move about as easily. Look for ways that you may can lend a helping hand, but be okay if the person declines the offer. Many times people are grateful for your help and other times they may be able to do it themselves. But don’t be afraid to ask!  Don’t be afraid to talk to a person who is in a wheelchair. Remember that just because someone has physical limitations doesn’t mean they aren’t a genius! Most people with disabilities have the same desires as non disabled persons – just to be accepted and live as normal a life as possible. Many people with mobility restrictions have a job, children, interests and abilities similar or different to those of others. Let’s get moving!

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It’s All About the Stripes

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Once upon a parking lot, there were many cars and trucks,  each one driven by all kinds of people. Each person found a place to park. Well just as there are very unique people driving all kinds of vehicles, there are different kinds of parking spots too. That’s where the stripes come in.

You see, some people have problems walking, others can’t walk at all, others have heart and lung or nerve problems– and much more! But what about the stripes?

Well, all parking spots have stripes. Let’s say you are at a grocery store. You have a handicapped plaquuard because you have back problems.. You pull up into a regular handicapped spot. You’re good! But what is regular? These are the spots with just 2 regular stripes like any other spot, along with the sign that designated it as handicapped parking.

But let’s change it up a bit. Now a person in a wheelchair comes along. Most vans that are wheelchair accessible have a ramp that opens out on the passenger side.that means the only safe and accessible spot is one that has wide stripes out to the side. For these vehicles the stripes need to be on the right of the parking spot. The left side is okay if the spot can be backed into. Sometimes but not always, these spots are designated with a “Van Accessible” sign. If no spot like this is available these people usually have to wait until one is vacated or shop somewhere else. That’s because they can’t even get out of their van and be assured they can get back in.

Yet another kind of spot has narrow stripes to the side. These are for people in walkers. Without these stripes it is hard for these people to get in and out of their car.

Sometimes people use a family member’s parking plaquuard and park in these spots. The other day I was at CVS and came out to leave. A man was using the RedBox DVDS rental kiosk. He had pulled crookedly into a handicapped spot because it was right next to the kiosk. It wasn’t raining or cold. So as I was leaving he got in his car and started backing up. I had to honk to avoid him hitting me.

As a wheelchair user I will even park in a regular parking spot if there is one on the end of a row with stripes to the right.

So once again, parking is about the stripes. And if everyone pays attention and is honest, maybe more people can find just the right spot.

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