Wheelchair accessibility of toilets and car parking – do you need to use it?

Wheelchair accessibility for weeing and parking

As I drive and urinate, I make use of accessible parking and toilets.  If you are wondering if I drive and urinate at the same time, the answer is yes. I have an indwelling catheter (just below my belly button) and drain into a leg bag.  This blog relates to my experiences with wheelchair accessibility for car parking and toilets.  And how to approach and talk to people who appear to be doing the wrong thing.

Wheelchair accessibility for car parking

The law in South Australia makes it clear that you need a disabled parking permit to park in an accessible car park. The fine is around $350.  Drivers must show that they need to park close to facilities. It doesn’t just cover people in wheelchairs.  Walkers can have trouble walking, and there are invisible disabilities which are provided permits too.  Look at the permit and not the person.  When I have the motivation and the time, I take action when the vehicle doesn’t show the appropriate permit. I hope the following examples will help you do the same.

the sign from the motel that was blocking disabled parking - so much for wheelchair accessibilityExample 1

I dined at a local pub, and couldn’t park in the disabled park. The hotel placed an electronic advertising sign in the park.  The first approach was to the manager, and she was sympathetic and provided her manager’s details.  I didn’t receive an appropriate response, so Dignity Party took to Twitter. The sign disappeared within a few hours.  The name of the hotel has been removed from the photograph, as the hotel responded well.

Example 2

While shopping at the Ingle Farm shopping centre, I noticed a delivery van parked in a disabled car park. The driver walked quickly, and I followed him. He was picking up his dry cleaning, and I asked him if he had a permit.  His response was “No, but I am quickly picking up the dry cleaning”. I responded with “And while you are doing this, should the disabled driver just go home as they couldn’t park near the shops?”.  The driver took off and moved the van. A few customers thanked me for my actions. However, my motivation was for the person who needs the car park.

Example 3

amin's plumbing - in an accessible car park and no permit- so much for wheelchair accessibility

While shopping at the Modbury Triangle shopping centre, I noticed the van of a plumber parking in a disabled park. They were working in a store.  I spoke to the person that appeared to be the senior person. And asked them if the driver of the van had a disabled permit.  He told me the owner of the store gave the plumber permission to park there. I mentioned that approval is only provided by the state government via the allocation of a disabled parking permit.  He said he would call the owner. I suggested he should take responsibility for his actions and move the van instead.  After snapping a photo, he relocated the vehicle.  I’ve included the photograph and the name of the business due to their poor attitude.

Each time, I have remained calm and stated the facts. And asked them to move the vehicle, and used social media were appropriate.

Wheelchair accessibility for toilets

I cannot fit into many of the toilets frequented by walkers and need to use the accessible bathroom.  When the door is locked, and the toilet occupied, I place my powered chair next to the door. Making it impossible for the person in the bathroom to move unless I do.  When the door opens, and it is obvious the person needs to use the toilet, I say hello and get out of the way.  It includes people in wheelchairs, other mobility aids and parents with children. It is not always possible for parents to take their children to the standard toilets.  There are people with invisible disabilities or disorders, and they need to use the accessible toilets too, so I then ask them if they need to use the toilet and then move out of the way.

This leaves people who don’t need to use the toilet, and most people then apologise. I accept their apology and ask them to use the standard toilet in the future, and I move out of the way.  This leaves people who will not talk to me.  Many refuse to look me in the eye.  I explain why I cannot use a standard toilet, and that they can, and they have kept me waiting.  I wait a little longer, and then move. They are the type of people who have little respect and just don’t care.  Besides, I don’t want to he hit!

Click here for my experiences using the accessible restrooms at the Adelaide Festival Centre.

The approach is similar to parking.  Remain calm and state the facts.

I am the Soup Nazi* regarding wheelchair accessibility of toilets and parking.  NO ACCESSIBLE TOILET/PARKING FOR YOU, IF YOU DON’T HAVE A NEED FOR IT! (*reference to Seinfeld).

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