“The change has to basically come from within, people park there because they are not bothered but what if there is an emergency and the person with disabilities doesn’t find parking or cannot get to his car easily near a mall, hospital or clinic, then what is the use?” said Safia Bari, director of the Special Needs Future Development Centre.
“People randomly park in the disabled spaces and even if you give them a stare or ask them about it, they still park and go away. Both people with cards and without cards need to respect this or no regulation will work.”
Awareness should also reach families that the disability sticker should be used only when necessary.
“We have a sticker that only comes out if my daughter is in the car then we look for parking near the entry otherwise we leave the disabled parking for someone more in need,” said Mrs Bari.
The eldest of her three daughters has mild cerebral palsy and scoliosis making it difficult for her to walk or stand for long periods.
“If she is not in the car, we don’t use the sticker and everybody should also follow this and if they have a card they should not use if for personal benefit.”
Neena Nizar, a school teacher with the Jansen disorder characterised by skeletal and joint abnormalities, began driving a specially modified sedan using hand controls four years ago.
However, she cancels trips to the grocery store or mall if reserved slots are taken and she is forced to park too far away to conveniently reach the entrance.
“Driving gives me an amazing sense of freedom,” she said. “But during an important holiday, the parking is always full and the reserved parking is often taken by people without disability cards. That does make me angry because I have to park really far away or just leave.”
Before the radars are rolled out, people with disabilities hoped there would be consultations with the community since video and photos may not identify all disabilities.
“Disability is such a wide spectrum so it will have to be a heavy duty sensor to understand what constitutes special needs,” said Ms Nizar.
“The spectrum is wide. It also covers autism cases and in a photo you cannot make out some forms of Down Syndrome.”
Source: The National UAE , 24th Dec 2014