By Anna Williams
While parking accessibility is important for everyone on campus, it is even more so for those who suffer from mobility-limiting disabilities.
I should know –I currently struggle with a disorder that has prevented me from being able to physically go on campus.
If I had closer access to my class building, I would be able to utilize my cane to physically attend my classes and scholarship program seminars. But because U of L doesn’t provide parking that can fit my needs as a disabled person, I have to revert to attending my obligations virtually.
Parking availability and location have been a hot topic for students attending U of L for quite some time.
A growing issue
A few years ago a group of students with the Engage Lead Service Board’s Task Force Freshman organization presented a policy to the Engage Lead Service Board to improve campus parking. They suggested turning the Yellow Lot into a parking garage to condense the space students have to travel to park their vehicles.
A student created a proposal to U of L directly, presenting concrete evidence on why parking was an issue for students and how turning vacant lots at the heart of campus into parking lots could help solve that problem.
In 2022, U of L’s general fund revenue budget was 555.9 million. It seems like $200,000, which is what is universally needed to create a small parking lot, could be invested for students and staff to have better accessibility to campus.
U of L isn’t the only university struggling to provide accessible parking for those with disabilities. Louisiana State University has received many complaints about the lack of accessible parking from students at the institution.
The institution’s efforts
According to U of L’s University Parking & Transportation Services, accessible parking is already available for students. Multiple handicapped spaces are offered within the pre-existing parking spots on campus. As great of an effort as this is, a 5-foot difference between spaces in the parking lots isn’t going to offer immense accommodations for those who struggle with mobility limitations.
Although U of L and other schools are technically in full compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, the general needs of those with disabilities are still not being met. From facility service vehicles taking those handicap spots when they don’t need them, to a lack of parking options for disabled individuals, it is apparent that parking functionality needs to be revised.
“Parking & Transportation Services works with the ADA Coordinator on all accessible parking concerns and issues,” said Gary Becker, from the U of L parking team. Becker also stated, “[U of L Parking] is currently conducting an accessible space utilization to better understand current usage and to develop a plan for future accessible space expansion.” So the possibility of these accessibility issues being fixed is promising.
The bottom line
General parking complaints will always be present in the conversation about campus parking. However, I encourage U of L to primarily focus on providing accessible parking lots for those with disabilities.
I trust in U of L’s ability to make the necessary changes to better provide for those who need it—our campus’s disabled community deserves parking accommodations while here as Cardinals. Shouldn’t U of L, a school that is known for providing support to minorities, live up to that notion by providing for its disabled community?
Photo Courtesy // University of Louisville