Earlier today I was sent an article from CBC about a young woman in Halifax who has received ridiculous notes on her car because she had the nerve to walk away from her vehicle which was parked in a accessible designated parking space. Even though Natasha Hope-Simpson has a valid accessible parking permit which is clearly displayed in her windshield, she had the audacity to use her mobility to the best of her ability without even thinking about how that could affect strangers in a parking lot. How completely inconsiderate of her, right?
We need to have a very frank discussion about this, world. Because this is just unacceptable.
It seriously blows my mind that there can be people out there who take time out of their busy day to leave notes like this on the windshield of someone with a COMPLETELY VISIBLE ACCESSIBLE PARKING PERMIT:
P.S. Natasha walks with the aid of a prosthetic leg because she lost her left leg below the knee during a hit and run accident. But you didn’t need to know that, because her parking permit says she has a disability and it shouldn’t concern you what that disability is.
Chances are every single person in North America knows a family member or friend who has an invisible disability. If you know someone with a disease like Multiple Sclerosis, lupus, arthritis, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome (just to name a few) then you know someone with an invisible disability. If you know someone with back problems or a lung disease then you know someone with an invisible disability. If you know someone with a brain injury then you know someone with an invisible disability. You’re starting to get the point, right? I can go on all day. And if you don’t personally know someone affected by an invisible disability then congratulations, but you certainly know someone who knows someone. The point I’m trying to get at is this: everyone should be aware that invisible disabilities exist. It should just be common sense at this point. People should understand the notion of invisible disabilities enough to think twice before leaving harassing notes like that on someone’s car.
You don’t know the person who just walked away from that accessible parking spot. You have absolutely no idea what they are going through. You have no clue what a complete triumph it probably is for them to be able to walk away from that vehicle. It could be something they worked very hard to achieve. It could be the most painful thing in the world for them. But it is in no way your right to know that. They don’t have to explain themselves to you. No one should have to use a mobility aid just because it’s what you expect of them. No one should expect anything more from someone than a bit of common decency in this sort of situation. If you see an accessible parking permit displayed in their car, accept that they have every right to use that spot. Quit being so quick to judge. Go back to minding your own business.
If this is still a difficult concept for you to grasp, perhaps this chart that I just made with my fancy photoshop skills will help you in your future struggles to understand simple human rights.
I might sound bitter, and it’s only because I am. I just want to live in a world where people who have disabilities don’t have to worry about this kind of crap. I don’t think that’s asking too much.
If you genuinely don’t know anything about invisible disabilities then please do humankind a solid and educate yourself by checking out some of the following links: