Concerns have been raised that “unscrupulous” family members of people with disability could be using their relatives’ disabled parking ID cards in order to use parking spaces specially marked for people with disability.
And local officials who have a vested interest in the disabled community are not pleased that there seem to be an increase in the number of residents who are doing such.
The vexing issue was raised during the Barbados Tourism Product Authority’s (BTPA) Accessible Barbados Symposium panel discussion on the topic Universal Access: Is the Tourism Sector Ready? at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Friday.
Officials attending the forum agreed that in addition to dealing with stigma and discrimination in Barbados, people with disability also often times had to battle for parking spaces and it was not fair.
Raising questions as to the authenticity of some of the Parking IDs, which bare a wheelchair symbol and various colours depending on the disability, at least two operators of companies that transport people with disabilities questioned if residents were getting away with fake cards similar to those issued by the authorities.
“I have seen a significant increase in the number of those parking signs,” pointed out Michael Holder, managing director and owner of Blessed Rentals.
Confirming that there appeared to be an increase in the number of people with vehicles baring the wheelchair symbol, administrative project officer at the Barbados Council for the Disabled Roseann Foster-Vaughan said it was due to family members using the cards of disabled relatives without having them in the vehicle.
“Whoever you see with it could only get them if they bring a doctors certificate. But what is happening is when you have unscrupulous family members that take up the sign, they don’t have the individual in the car, but they use it. That is when you see the discrepancy,” she said.
As per the Road Traffic Act, it is illegal for anyone who is not disabled to park or block access to the parking spot marked for people with disability.
People with disability are issued with specially marked parking identification cards once they have presented a doctor’s report confirming their disability.
It is not known exactly how many people are currently living in Barbados with a disability. However, some officials put the figure at just over 3,000.
Other issues identified during the discussion included a lack of legislation to protect and improve some services for people living with disabilities; the absence of ramps at some business establishments as well as the lack of action by the relevant authorities to penalize those who erect a building that did not cater to those living with a physical challenge. (MM)