News Release

Disability Committee Partners to Create Awareness
Posted: 6/5/2017 5:00 PM
 

The D.R.E.A.M.S. Foundation of Acadiana, the Advocacy Center of Louisiana (AC), and Liam Doyle of the Mayor-President’s Awareness Committee for Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD) have partnered to produce a public service announcement reminding drivers that observing handicapped parking signs is not just the law, but it is also the right thing to do.
 
Proximity to a building’s entrance, space for loading and unloading wheelchair equipment, and weather all play a significant factor in the ability for citizens in wheelchairs to move in and out of a vehicle. “For wheelchair-bound citizens and their caregivers, not being able to park in designated handicapped spaces can hinder or even make it impossible to get to their destinations,” stated Donielle Watkins, Founder and Executive Director of D.R.E.A.M.S.
 
The 30 second video titled “Think Before You Park,” depicts two adolescents during their daily routine; “Madison” is in a wheelchair and “Jacob” is not. As the narrator states, it takes Madison an exponentially longer time to accomplish everyday tasks, especially getting in and out of the car, because she is confined to a wheelchair. The video shows Jacob’s mother illegally parking in a handicapped spot saying, “We’re just going to be a minute.” The viewers then see another driver honking because Madison and her mom are forced to block the lane in order to unload due to an illegally parked vehicle in the handicapped space. The message is, “When you park in a handicapped spot, you’re making steps for those who can’t walk. Think before you park.” View the PSA at lafayettela.gov/DAC/Pages.
 
As the mother of a special needs child, Watkins knows firsthand the challenges of life in a wheelchair. “We are trying to provide our children the most normal lives possible. We get out and about, rain or shine. We do fun activities and we also just run errands. If we are unable to park in the marked handicapped spaces, it’s more than just an inconvenience, sometimes it means we have to turn around and go home.”  Watkins hopes the PSA will put a face to the people affected when drivers illegally park in handicapped spaces.
 
“This public awareness campaign is a great opportunity to educate and remind the general public on the laws regarding handicapped parking in an emotional way,” said Doyle. “By associating real people to those reserved spots, it humanizes an often overlooked issue. I was thrilled and honored to partner with Mrs. Watkins and the AC to bring this important issue to light." Doyle has long been a voice for disabled citizens and leads the ACCD’s efforts of education and awareness to address issues such as handicapped parking availability and Para-Transit reform, among other things. With the support of local government and other advocates, the ACCD actively seeks to identify unique solutions to mobility and accessibility challenges in order to create a more inclusive community for those living with a disability.