I guess I’ve seen it from all angles. Since it’s pretty clear that I have a disability, I don’t worry about people wondering if I’m “faking it” when I pull into a disabled parking space.
I’m also aware that there are a lot of people whose disabilities are not obvious, but who still need and are entitled to that disability placard. So I stop myself from angrily limping up and confronting people who appear to be using that space illegally.
But the truth is that a whole lot of people are taking advantage of a law that was hard-fought for and a long time coming: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Among other things, this law requires that most stores and other places open to the public must designate a certain amount of their parking places as reserved only for people with disabilities. It has tremendously helped people with disabilities to become more integrated into a society that was (unintentionally) built without us in mind.
So one of the best ways of expressing our thanks for the ADA is to work to maintain it. This includes resisting the numerous recent attempts to chip away at its most important provisions (see my posts for more info). It also means that if we think we see someone who is using a disabled parking place they are not entitled to, we should take the time to write down their license plate number and call the authorities.
That certainly beats the two only other alternatives: We can ignore the issue and hope that more people decide to be law-abiding. Or we can try to take the law into our own hands and confront the suspected offender. And as one who has occasionally used this latter approach, I must sheepishly admit that there are much better ways to use my time and energy!
For more info, see: