Don’t Pass on the Pass: An Accessibility Fail

The most consistently bothersome aspect of living with hemophilia is my left ankle. Due to both minor and, on rare occasions, major bleeding into the joint, I have very little cartilage. When my ankle hurts, it's because the bones in my ankle are basically rubbing against each other.

We know how we get when our personal space is being encroached upon. Well, our bones get just as irritable without the natural moderator that is cartilage.

Quiet damage over the years

My Achille's Ankle, as I call it, wasn't noticeable until my 30s. Through my 20s, I traveled a lot with my partner, Gwenn, educating together about sexual health. Being crammed in coach and then racing through an airport to catch a connecting flight really revealed my hidden weakness.

First, I noticed that I couldn't run.

Then, when my ankle really hurt, I couldn't even walk fast.

When I finally talked to my doctor about the issue, a subsequent x-ray revealed the truth: hemophilia had quietly been doing damage to my ankle for years. I was prescribed an ankle brace, which helped secure the ankle and make the painful times much easier.

Making my life a little easier

I also got a handicapped parking pass. It was a bit of a pill to swallow, but I quickly realized how invaluable it was when we traveled.

Instead of schlepping across a college campus on a hobbled joint, we parked right in front of the venue. I can't explain how much more enjoyable it is to begin a talk not in excruciating pain.

Using my pass at a public event

Around town, I don't use it much. But recently, I got invited to a pro wrestling event in town, and my ankle had been giving me a little grief. Public events are just like airports as far as my ankle is concerned. The unexpected pace and cadence can wear quickly.

So I offered to drive my friends and use my pass, just in case coming out of the event was going to be more painful than going in.

I was waved through with the traffic flow

As we pulled into the arena, I flashed the handicap pass to the parking lot attendant. They didn't blink. They just waved us to continue following the traffic flow, slowly moving away from the arena's entrance. We passed a few coned-off rows, presumably for handicapped and bus-sized parking spots.

There were a decent amount of empty parking spots visible.

The next attendants were at the parking garage's entrance. This time, after waving the pass twice, I managed to get someone's ear. The attendant asked someone if the elevator inside the garage was working.

It was not.

An accessibility fail

They moved a couple of cones to veer us off from the cars being sent to the upper levels of the garage. We ended up parked beside an elevator that didn't work – on the second floor.

For me? No big deal. If my ankle had been hurting too bad to take the stairs, I wouldn't have left my house. But what if I had a wheelchair in the back of my Outback? Lots of my fellow rare diseasers who rely on handicapped parking passes as part of their daily lives would have been totally screwed here.

Perhaps they'd have refused to enter a garage without a working elevator in the first place?

The event itself was such a great time. But after the whole thing was over, it's sad that none of the heels (bad guys) in the ring did anything as egregious as the parking lot attendants.

How could this have gone better?

I know that filtering humans is never an easy job. I'm very friendly and as helpful as possible with anyone who works with the public. Oftentimes, we suck. So I'd be remiss if I didn't say that the attendant I spoke to was very nice. I also believe they were doing the best they could to accommodate me on the spot.

Maybe the first attendant botched it by dismissing me? Either way, for an event expecting well over a thousand people, the handicapped parking situation should have been handled better.

Legally, it is required to be considered even if 1 person pulled into the parking lot.

Have you ever experienced accessibility challenges? What happened? Share with us in the comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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