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Disabled glad for new laws

ANTOINETTE CONNELL, [email protected]

Disabled glad for new laws

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THE LOOMING punishment for unkind drivers who park in spots reserved for the disabled is being hailed by the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD).

The umbrella body for about 17 organisations representing people who suffer with disabilities was reacting to news last week by Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley about an amendment to the Road Traffic Act and Regulations.

The amended law would mean that offenders who stop, stand or park a vehicle in the specially designated space could be fined up to $500 if they do not have a valid parking permit from the Licensing Authority prominently displayed. The penalty is also attached to the blocking of the dropped kerb, the lowered section of the sidewalk that facilitate the movement of disabled person.

President of the BCD, Maria Holder Small, said the body had waited long for the legislation that would give teeth to what some companies had already instituted and so deal with some of the selfishness of motorists.

“We have some of the disabled who drive; it is not only wheelchair users who drive. Many persons benefit from those parking IDs; we have persons with pacemakers who are not able to walk the long distance or even the short distance from the vehicle to the door,” she said, adding that the elderly were also accommodated.

Holder Small, who has been president for the last two years, added that it was comforting to know the disabled have not been forgotten. She said last year the disabled community presented a petition with more than 12 000 signatures seeking legal recognition of the parking spaces.

“I eagerly look forward to these amendments,” she said.

She explained that she had not walked since 2006 as a result of multiple sclerosis, but even before then she would chide able-bodied people for using the designated parking spaces and ask them to be “considerate” and think of those who needed the spaces.

“So I guess a little empathy is what we need here,” Holder Small said.

With the changes in the offing, Holder Small said the council would intensify its education programme to make residents aware of the new law and to be conscious of what the logos and blue spaces really represented. (AC)