Accessible Parking Spots Are Only for Cars with Permit Holders Riding in Them
It happens regularly to people who need an accessible parking spot. They pull into the parking lot and the accessible spots are full, sometimes with others who have a disability that qualifies them for the spot, but often with an idling car and no permit, or simply a car with no permit.
It is a source of frustration and an impediment for many who have a physical disability who want to continuing living their lives as independently as they can. It is illegal to park in an accessible spot without a valid permit and the permit holder being in the car.
Other problems that people with accessibility needs face include able bodied cars parking beside them too closely. This can impede access to the car for anyone in a wheelchair or using another aid like a walker. The reason that accessible spots are so wide is to allow for access on all sides of the vehicle by wheelchair, to allow for side ramps to be lowered, and to allow for doors to be swung wide open to make the car easier to enter or leave.
Some vehicles even have mechanical arms/lifts that extend almost 6 feet to the side of the car and ramps can often run 10-15’ to the side. If there is no room to deploy the mechanical aids, then the person with the disability will be forced to wait until the owner of the other vehicle comes out and moves their car. This can be embarrassing or even humiliating and cause other problems as well.
Some people with accessibility needs have reverted to using two parking spots in parking lots, only to return to nasty notes or their cars having been vandalized. Clearly people do not have compassion, nor do they note the accessibility permit on the car.
When you do see a car or van parked oddly in a lot with a permit consider that the individual on board may have needs for more than one spot. Remember that not all people with disabilities use a walker, cane or wheelchair.
Obtaining an Accessible Parking Permit requires an individual or a company to apply for and qualify for it. The permit travels with the individual, not the car, and the permit holder must be in the car in order for the car to use the accessible spot. The application has to be filled out by a regulated healthcare practitioner certifying the disability and the applicant and must be submitted to ServiceOntario for approval.
If you or a family member are interested in applying for a permit you can read all about it here.
To get an accessible parking permit, your healthcare practitioner must certify that you have one or more of the following health conditions:
- cannot walk without assistance of another individual or of a brace, cane, crutch, lower limb prosthetic device or similar assistive device or who requires the assistance of a wheelchair,
- suffers from lung disease to such an extent that his or her forced expiratory volume in one second is less than one litre,
- portable oxygen is a medical necessity,
- suffers from cardiovascular disease to such an extent that the individual’s functional capacity is classified as Class III or Class IV according to Nomenclature and Criteria for Diagnosis of Diseases of the Heart and Great Vessels, ninth edition, published by Little, Brown & Co. in 1994,
- severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, musculoskeletal or orthopaedic condition,
- visual acuity is 20/200 or poorer in the better eye with corrective lenses if required, or whose maximum field of vision using both eyes has a diameter of 20 degrees or less,
- mobility is severely limited by one or more conditions or functional impairments
Regulated healthcare practitioners
When you apply, your condition can only be certified by a:
- registered nurse practitioner (extended class)
- occupational therapist
- chiropodist or
They will indicate on your application whether you have a permanent condition, temporary condition or subject-to-change disability health condition.