(CMR) The Cayman Islands Government, in conjunction with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), is launching a grassroots public education and awareness campaign to help the community better understand the equal rights and legal protection of those with disabilities – in particular, when it comes to accessible parking or ‘blue spots.’
The “Save my spot, nah!” campaign was developed to encourage compassion and advocacy for members of the community with visible and invisible disabilities who rely on accessible parking for a better quality of life. It also aims to rally the community to protect accessible parking areas and better understand the rules of use.
Disabilities are defined as any physical, mental, or neurological condition that may affect an individual's movements or senses, regardless of outward appearance. For example, someone may legally have a disability parking permit or license plate without having a visible mobility assistance device, like a wheelchair, scooter, or cane. Invisible conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, heart conditions, asthma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, etc., may qualify someone to park in a blue spot. Therefore, the public is encouraged not to judge appearances or make assumptions about people they see using accessible parking – but do be alert to vehicles that park in these spots without the approved permits or license plates.
Chairperson for the NCPD, Ms. Magda Embury, explained the goal of the campaign and the collaboration with the Government and RCIPS,
“We are so happy to be launching our “Save my spot, nah!” campaign. Often, well-meaning onlookers may shame individuals for using the blue spots without knowing that they suffer from an invisible condition and they are qualified to use the designated spaces for a better quality of life,” Ms. Embury noted.
“It is also important to remember that the additional space next to the blue spots, known as the ‘crosshatch area,’ is not an extra parking space, but rather an essential exit/entry space needed for motorists with disabilities who use wheelchairs or other devices. Unfortunately, sometimes these crosshatched spaces are often occupied or partially blocked by able-bodied drivers,” she added.
“The NCPD is grateful to the Cayman Islands Government and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for its continued support and efforts thus far, and we now look forward to creating a community of ‘Blue Spot Heroes’ who work along with us to protect those with disabilities by ensuring that accessible parking spots are saved for those who need them most,” she continued.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 1 in every 7 people on Earth live with a disability that impacts major life activities. As people age, the proportion with disabilities increases – and of those persons who have a chronic illness, 80% are considered to have an invisible or hidden disability. That equates to approximately one billion people who are living with an invisible disability. Locally, there are many people who need to use accessible parking spaces.
“It is our goal to always protect the most vulnerable in our society and to inspire a new wave of advocates to further the goal of protecting ‘blue spots’ for those that really need them. As we have entered the busy holiday season, we encourage the community to be ‘Blue Spot Heroes’ and leave the blue accessible parking spots for those who need them the most,” said Acting Cabinet Secretary Jason Webster.