Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Reserved for a reason

Rampant misuse of handicap, accessible spots on UTSA Main Campus
Reserved+for+a+reason
Mohitha Ravikumar

We all know the pain of finding parking at, or even near, UTSA’s main campus. 

The challenge can be difficult for healthy people, but it is often worse for those living with a disability who cannot find an adequate spot due to accessible lots being full. 

Handicap or accessible parking spaces are ADA-marked parking spaces that are labeled with the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA). These spots are strictly reserved for individuals who have serious permanent or temporary physical disabilities, mobility issues and other conditions. Individuals with permanent disabilities use the blue placard or the ISA symbol on the license plate. A temporary disability is identified by a red placard.

Not only do the handicapped spots on campus fill up quickly, but they are often filled illegally. For at least the last two semesters, finding parking has become more difficult for students who have serious physical disabilities. These students struggle to find accessible parking in designated handicapped spots due to many people filling them up illegally. This puts the health of those who rely on these specially marked spots at risk due to them being forced to park in less accessible spots that are farther away from their destination. 

In addition to illegally occupying handicapped spots, some students take advantage of these spaces to pick up others from campus. Unless someone is picking up an individual with a disability, handicapped spots do not serve as temporary parking spots while waiting to pick up others. These spots are strictly for the use of people with disabilities. 

As of Jan. 1, 2022, SB 792 is in effect. The law entailed numerous legal changes in Texas regarding disabled parking spaces and the requirements to park in these spots. DV-labeled plates, which indicate a disabled veteran, are a common sight in San Antonio due to the large population of service members, veterans and their families. Before the law went into effect, anyone who had DV plates was eligible to park in accessible parking spots. SB 792 changed the law to require anyone with a DV plate who wishes to park in accessible parking to also apply for a disabled parking placard or a new set of DV plates with the ISA. 

Some students incorrectly believe using a relative’s placard or vehicle with ISA-labeled plates is okay. Texas DMV states that it is illegal “to use the placard or plates for a disabled parking spot without the person with the disability in the vehicle. People who misuse disabled parking placards are subject to fines of up to $1,250 and/or up to 50 hours of community service.” Although it may be convenient for these students to use these spots to park close, others depend on these spots in order to safely navigate campus. 

For the health and safety of others, please do not park in handicapped parking spaces if you are not legally allowed to do so. This is an ongoing issue and many students with disabilities struggle every day to find accessible parking to get to class without putting their health at risk.

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About the Contributor
Mohitha Ravikumar, Graphic Artist
Mohitha Ravikumar (she/her) is a sophomore pursuing a Computer Engineering degree at UTSA. Outside Paisano you can find her drawing, painting and creating new artworks.

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