Appearances can be deceiving
It’s no secret that the University has a parking problem. During the late morning to afternoons, students desperate to get to class on time roam the parking lots looking for people leaving and offer rides to their cars.
It would make sense for some to get angry when a student with a handicapped sticker steps out of his car, seemingly able to walk easily and bypass the monotony that the average student has to face. There have been complaints on the popular Facebook group, UH Confessions, about students who are able to walk with handicap stickers abusing the privilege.
Blame is sometimes shifted to the doctors who recommend the parking or to the parking officials handing out the passes. However, disability goes beyond appearances, and sometimes, it’s what you can’t see that warrants handicap placards.
According to section 681.001 of the Texas Transportation Code, one definition of a “disability” is a condition in which a person has mobility problems that substantially impair the ability to move about. Someone could be fine walking the short distance from the parking lot to class, but a few hundred feet later could be forced to sit down because of fatigue for a number of reasons. For example, a veteran who was shot in a way that it reduces their mobility because of atrophy or avascular necrosis — a bone death caused by poor blood supply, common in several gunshot wound and trauma victims — may have to limit himself because of pain or possible bone damage.
Problems with walking also extend to people who suffer from lung disease or significant cardiac conditions. Another condition that could warrant a parking pass is visual acuity of 20/200 or less or a limited field of vision in which the widest diameter subtends an angle of 20 degrees or less.
There are also arthritic and neurological conditions that warrant a parking pass according to the code, and you would never know just by looking what exactly they are suffering from. Arthritis, which is sometimes diagnosed in young people, could be minimal one day but absolutely unbearable the next. Neurological conditions are manageable enough so that one doesn’t have to use handicap parking one day, but desperately need it the next.
Permanent parking passes, according to the Center for Students with Disabilities, are issued to anyone with a state issued disabled parking placard or license plate, which subjects recipients to section 681.001 of the Texas Transportation Code. According to the CSD, physicians can write recommendations for the parking pass to be given out for a shorter amount of time. This could be for any sort of reason, including surgery recovery.
Everyone knows parking on campus is frustrating and possibly the biggest complaint a student could have. Pointing the finger at people who can walk and have a handicap sticker, however, is something anyone should reconsider if you don’t know the truth.
Jacob Patterson is a management information systems senior and may be reached at [email protected]