After reading an article about how Gold Coast fitness guru, Ashy Bines regularly parks her car in a disabled parking spot, I felt angry.
It is not often that I get so enraged by an article in any print or online media that I am compelled to write about it. But Ashy Bines, you have created a first.
Some background information about me: I was born with a rare genetic condition Ectodactyly-Ectodermal Dysplasia-Cleft lip/ palate Syndrome (EEC), I have a number of visible physical disabilities such as a cleft lip and three fingers on each hand. So I “look the part” when it comes to having a disability.
The parts that are less visible are the hole in my heart, the scars from where I had an additional toe removed and the fact that I am legally blind. I don’t often give away this blindness as I don’t have a cane or a guide dog (if you’re taking orders, mine would be a chocolate brown lab called Lenny!). It is only noticeable if you see me walking into something, tripping up or down an uneven surface, reading big text on my phone or iPad, or see my large LED computer screen and zoom text on my work computer.
So perhaps my issue with Ashy Bines’ comments and justifications as to why she should be able to park in a disabled car space outside her gym can be contextualised in the fact that I have a disability and felt offended by her comments. But that’s too easy, that’s stereotyped outraged.
What enraged me the most were the assumptions she made about people with disabilities as an able-bodied person.
The first assumption was that no disabled people are attendees or members of her gym, so therefore her right to park in the disabled spot was more important. Her right to park in that spot and have access to the gym was more important that the right of a disabled person.
The current requirements for the ratio of accessible parking spaces in comparison to “normal” spaces in a car park at a shopping centre or commercial building are 1:100 or thereabouts. It would appear the number of spaces you would have had available to you, Ashy, compared to that of a person with a disability, is far greater. Just because there were none available on that day or any other, you do not have the right to take away the access to this space for someone else.
Secondly, the assumption that people with a disability are not at her gym was thoughtless. How did she know a person with a disability would not select that day to drive down to the gym and investigate a membership? And perhaps, they are now put off by the lack of access to accessible parking?