This page started as a post about handicapped parking, which was a bit of a rant after a tough time parking the last few years and being fed up with it. After a lot of other people responded I moved most of that post to this page, because I believe it is an important topic that we need to fight for!
It started with handicapped parking, but then grew into other other cards that people found useful for different situations that they dealt with. I thought it would be nice to share them, and also get some help with translating them into other languages.
Handicapped Parking cards
I have the Handicapped Parking cards available in a few languages, and will be working on more. To use them, click on the images below. It will open a PDF that you can print and cut to the size of business cards (85 x 55 mm). They are in A4 format, but should print okay on US "letter" size paper. They also print okay in black and white if you want to save on ink costs.
About using the Handicapped Parking cards
After the original post I had a few questions and wanted to mention a few points about when to use the cards and when not to use them. Believe me, the legitimate handicapped people don't need vigilantes out there harassing them, and even for those who may not seem to be legitimate, there may be things you do not know about their situation.
When not to use them
Never use the cards when someone has a handicapped parking permit. Some people have handicaps that are not obvious, like people who can walk a bit, but tire easily due to medical conditions you can not see or possibly know about. Suffice it to say that you have no idea about their situation, and it is none of your business to ask or judge upon it, regardless of what you may think you know to be true. This point is not debatable, and could really hurt the cause of increasing awareness for those who really need it.
Never jump to conclusions if you see only an obviously able bodied person get in or out of a car in handicapped parking, as long as they have a handicapped parking permit. There are times that they may be picking up someone or dropping them off, or maybe they are going to get something from the car, like the luggage they could not carry while also assisting with a wheelchair. In some cases they are even going to move the car to free up the handicapped parking space for others, as I often do when we are going to be somewhere for a while.
Although there are those who managed to get a handicapped parking permit and do not need it, had one when they needed it but no longer need it, or use it when there is not a handicapped person transferring from the car, it is just not possible to know what their situation really is, and it's better to let their conscious deal with that if they are not legitimate.
Even if they do not have a handicapped parking permit, I also do not use the cards if they are older, or obviously struggling with a health issue. Use your better judgement on this, because often it takes time to get a handicapped parking permit. At one of the few places they do monitor here, we got a very expensive ticket while waiting for ours, while parked in front of the emergency room at the hospital with a wheelchair in the back seat!
When to use them
Only use the cards when people have no handicapped parking permit. I use them when I see them park and there are no signs of a disabled person, when they block a disabled parking space or when they park in the handicapped spaces and the passenger(s) go in and the driver waits in the car.
Many seem to think that is okay to park in handicapped parking if someone is in the car. The problem they don't realise is that they usually are not paying attention, and I as the driver can often not get out of the car to ask them to move. In that case I have held up the card, and that has been enough for them to realise that they need to move. In case you are wondering "why not just hold up the handicapped parking permit?", although logical, that usually stays locked in our glove compartment because there is a huge market here for stolen permits, and I have a hard time getting it out quickly.
The reason for the cards
These situations happen quite a lot at our local shops when it is busy, like every Saturday, and there are only two handicapped parking spaces available. Although the situation with more accessible parking spaces is getting better in many places, there is very inconsistent monitoring, and demand far exceeds the supply.
For us it means my husband does not come with me to the shops very often, because we never know if we will be able to park or he has to wait in the car. That makes it pretty difficult if we are trying to do something like buy him new shoes, where he really needs to be there to choose and try them on. For some odd reason the store clerks don't like it when I ask to take merchandise out to the parking lot to see which my husband wants.
I won't even start to describe the innumerable other places we are reluctant to go to, because we just can't be sure we can park. Suffice it to say that it severely limits the freedom of handicapped people and puts undue burdens on their families and friends who may be assisting them.
Why not just talk about it?
The reason for a card and not talking with people who are parked in handicapped parking are multiple. The first problem is that if nobody is in the car, there is no way to talk to them. Another is that often it's not possible to talk with someone while you are on a busy street and both parties are inside of cars.
In our case, another problem is that I'm a foreigner where we live, and if I try to talk with some people about it, it quickly turns into a problem about me being a foreigner, rather than about their bad parking. My husband is local, but can not always be understood well because of speech limitations, and because we can not park, he can not get out to be able to talk with them easily. This is why I would like to see these cards as something that people recognize, regardless of the language or speech capabilities.
Lastly, some people just get downright confrontational when you point out something they did that was wrong, even if it is obvious to everyone, including themselves, that it is their mistake. Remember, some of the type of people who need these cards are not the type you want to get confrontational with.
On the other hand, they don't really deserve too much politeness either, and hence not using "please" or "thank you" in the text of the card -- one should not need to be overly polite for for basic rights! Still, in case there is a mistake, it's better to hand it to them with a friendly smile if you can.
What it's trying to accomplish
By using these cards I am hoping people become more aware, because it is often younger drivers, that just may not get it yet. For those who do know better, I am hopping that a small public reminder might change their behaviour over time.
I think it is friendly enough that even if it was a mistake, no offense will be taken. I would not be offended if we got one and we are legitimate. I think most able bodied people who do not cheat will be giving the thumbs-up for someone taking action on this problem.
About the Symbol and Design
After making the original Handicapped Parking cards, I had a few people request others that they wanted. At around the same time, a new wheelchair symbol came out in New York City. I think it is really nicely done, and more accurately shows someone trying to be active when using a wheelchair.
See this link about the Accessible Icon Project. The Accessible Icon is owned by Triangle, Inc. and was created by Sara Hendren & Brian Glenney. The Accessible Icon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. I have received permission by the designers who I shared this link with.
I wanted to make it in the internationally recognized blue/white colours and logotype for handicapped parking so it is easily recognizable. The smiley emoticons came from various sources and are all licensed for non-commercial use. I will also try to make them without the smiley emoticons when time allows.
About the translations of the Handicapped parking cards
The Dutch and French text are already established and being used on signs or on the pavement by handicapped parking and some other countries are using something similar too. I am trying to keep the text similar to the original versions, which is not too confrontational, but direct and simple. I don't know who to give credit to on the original text, but will include that if I find out.
I have had some really good and funny suggestions for text in different languages, but it's better if the text is consistent for all languages. We want it that if someone receives a card in a country they do not speak the language, they might still understand what it means. Or if you are travelling to another country and don't speak the language you know what card you are giving. It's also important that it is not too long so it is quickly read and able to fit on all language versions, as some languages run longer than others.
Here are some examples, with slight variations of the text in different languages:
Here are a few other signs that are funny:
Other Accessibility Cards (translation help needed)
I have also been working on some other cards people requested, but I have not had time to work on all the language translations. I have them available in English, but could use some help with translations if anyone is interested.
About the translation of the other accessibility cards
When I started to make other cards I was asking for input on the CareCure Community forum and a few other disability groups. Like so many things with having a disability, there were many, many suggestions that met peoples specific needs based on their disability and experience. It became obvious that we would never get anywhere if we needed to make too many different cards in multiple languages.
The idea is that someone can have a few of them in their wallet or bag and be able to quickly and easily use them. This means the text needs to be general purpose enough for different uses so you don't have to go searching for a card with the exact situation you are dealing with.
Like the Handicapped Parking cards, it's also important the text is consistent for all languages. The reason for this is that we want the text also to become easily recognisable in various languages. We want it so that if someone receives a card in a country they do not speak the language, they might still understand what it means. Or if you are travelling to another country and don't speak the language so that you know what card you are giving. It's also important that it is not too long so it is quickly read and able to fit on all language versions, as some languages run longer than others.
Some of the cards are meant to be sarcastic and others more friendly. We are also trying to keep with the same tone as the original English cards with the translations. We know that literal translations often do not translate well when using sarcasm and humour, so we have tried to use simple phrases that are easily translatable. We are also trying to avoid slang, idioms or figurative phrases, because they often do not translate well. If you are helping with a translation, please keep with the same tone as the original English card. If it is untranslatable, give some idea's of something similar in that language that might work, keeping in mind the space limitations.
I'm also open to completely new idea's for cards, but first I would like to finish the cards we have in the primary European languages. The next on the list are Swedish, Portugues, Italian, Polish and Greek. If you have suggestions, please enter them as a comment and include what the card should be used for, and if there are any references or examples of it's use. Thank you for everyone helping me on this project.
To be used when others are taking accessible seating in restaurants, trains, buses, etc. This is a friendly card and meant to be non-confrontational. Nobody wants to be sitting on a bus with someone angry at them over seating.
To be used at all of those places that are marked accessible, but really are not, like having stairs, steep ramps, or obstructions for access. It can be attached to the offending object, left in a hotel room or toilet, or handed to a manager or owner. This card is meant to be sarcastic, because many business' say they are accessible, but they really are not. Many of us have paid more or gone out of our way to get somewhere advertised as accessible, only to not be able use the facilities.
Mind your space
It is to be handed to people who are blocking aisles, jumping in front to get on elevators, crowding you in so you can not maneouver around them, etc. It is to let them know they should be aware about the space they are using in a public area and that others also need to use that space. This card is meant to be friendly, but still a bit direct. It comes from the recording "Mind the gap" used on the Underground in the UK to warn passengers to be careful when leaving the train and the recording "Mind your step" at the end of the treadmills (loopbanden) at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.
This is a friendly card. It is to be passed under the door to people taking a long time in a handicapped toilet or handed to them after they come out. There was a lot of debate about this topic, with some feeling that others should not use handicapped toilets, and others like me who know that sometimes there is only one or two toilets and able bodied people have no other choice. Whatever way you view this topic, the general consensus was that much like being on a bus or in another enclosed area, it's safer to be friendly than sarcastic.
Don't touch my chair
This is a friendly card. It is to be handed to people who mean well, but who make life more difficult by trying to take control of the wheelchair. It can also be used for people who are playing with your equipment or sitting or leaning on your chair, etc.
Rudeness and stupidity
This is a very sarcastic card. It is to be handed to people when they are being very rude and stupid. It is best used when there is a posted sign that you can point to for something that is suppose to be for disabled people. You can also write on the back what the offensive action was. Use with discretion!
Discrimination and UN-CRPD
This is a sarcastic card. It is to be handed to business', schools, medical facilities, institutions, governments, etc. when they are discriminating and going against your rights to accessibility, education, health care, justice, independent living, personal mobility, cultural life, recreation and sport, etc. See this link for a Map of Signatures and Ratifications to make sure the country you use it in has signed the UN-CRPD. Also make sure that whatever the situation is, that it is covered by the UN-CRPD. It will not help the cause if you use these cards when it is not appropriate.
Discrimination and ADA
For those in the US, this card is for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), because sadly the US did not ratify the UN-CRPD. As with the UN-CRPD, make sure that whatever the situation is, that it is covered by the ADA.
This is a very friendly card to be used when people go out of their way to help or support you. It can also be nice to give someone that you had given another card after they corrected what they did. A little gratitude goes a long way, and lets them know how much you appreciate it. This card can be used in any situation.
Fill-in your own message
Lastly, this card can be used to fill-in your own message for any situation.
English text of all cards for translations
Handicapped Parking: If you take my place, also take my handicap!
Priority seating: Please, consider others when you use priority seating.
Not accessible: Wow! Was that not accessible!
Mind your space: Please mind your space and get out of the way!
Handicapped toilet: It's okay to use it, but don't forget about others, with no other choice.
Don't touch my chair: Please do not touch my chair unless I ask.
Rudeness and stupidity: Rudeness and stupidity are not handicaps!
Discrimination and UN-CRPD: Have you read the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? You need to!
Thank you: Thank you... What you did was much appreciated.