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Un-ABLE to Park at School

It’s a known issue that parking is getting harder to access. The school is struggling to hold spots for everyone, and parking has expanded to the tennis courts across the street, but the parking issue has been a struggle for another group for much longer—the students at North Scott with disabilities. Accessible parking spots are poorly placed, poorly numbered, and poorly removed.

As a disabled person, it makes it easier to notice these things. Long story short, the protective layer around the nerves in my legs are deteriorating, causing lots of pain and weakness. To counter this, I use canes around the school, one or both depending on the day. Without a diagnosis, I’m not eligible for a handicapped parking permit. Luckily the school let me use the single handicapped parking spot next to the band doors. After I got it, I started to notice some issues surrounding the school and accessibility.

Everyone knows the band entrance, where a large portion of the students park. With 220 parking spots, at least ⅓ of the student body enters the school that way each morning. Despite this, there is one handicapped parking spot next to the entrance, and it’s mine. If there were any other students who drove themselves that needed one, they would have to park all the way near the fine arts center, where they won't be able to get in.

There are plenty of parking spots in front of the fine arts entrance; however, those doors are locked, and the doors that lead to B hall can only be opened by administrators. If anyone parks near the fine arts center, they’ll need to walk to the front doors or the band doors. The sidewalk leading from the fine arts doors to the band doors abruptly ends with no ramp down to the parking lot. This is dangerous and unhelpful for wheelchairs and other mobility aids.

Another more recent issue relates to the lack of parking for both students and staff. I recently passed the handicapped parking spots in front of the fine arts doors, and one sign was covered in a red bag so staff could park there. Slowly covering and removing these spots just because there aren’t many disabled people at the school doesn’t make it right. The ADA requires one accessible spot for every 25 regular spots, and at least one van accessible spot per parking lot. While I’m not going to count each parking spot, it’s easy to assume the school did close to the bare minimum, much like businesses and office buildings do. Covering these spots could push their numbers under the required amount of accessible spots needed.

The front entrance parking spots aren’t much better. Across two bus lanes and past the fine arts entrance are several parking spots, which should hardly be called accessible. If you used these spots accordingly, you would park, cross the two lanes where cars and buses are driving, go past the fine arts spots and entrance, and finally make it to the front doors. The visitor parking is closer than the handicapped spots. There are staff spots closer as well—lining the pit entrance.

The orchestra entrance is another trouble area for accessible spots. They are there, and close to the doors, but the doors are the issue here. Those doors don't get unlocked by Jodi when you push a button. They are only open until 7:45 and after 3:15. Anyone who comes in after that will have to go around to the front of the doors where students come in after strength training in the lab. There are also a few spots next to the sidewalk leading to the lab, but crossing that road is another challenge. Either way, it’s a long walk, which is the opposite of what disabled people want.

Working our way around the school, accessible parking in science is worse—it’s simply not there. The old parking spots have been covered up and replaced by staff spots—accessible spots that legally need to be there. As the ADA points out, there needs to be one spot per parking lot, and we can agree that one lot is separate from the orchestra lot. Able-bodied adults can easily walk farther distances than disabled students and staff.

Now, I’m not trying to personally bash the school and say that they hate disabled people or something. In fact, they have great classes and staff specifically for mentally and physically disabled students. The problem is that not every physically disabled student has a teacher or student with them to help them get around. Navigating within and outside the school is much more difficult for a disabled student such as myself. I just want to bring to light these issues and hope that other students start looking around in the world and seeing through the eyes of someone disabled. Bringing light to these issues in school and other public places can help disabled folks be truly equal to everyone else.

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