Parking Problems for Students with Disabilities

by DIANA RUSSELL

Staff Writer

Handicapped parking on campus is often a problem for students who have a physical disability. In a random survey on campus, students reported that parking was difficult if they did not arrive early for classes.  This was especially true near the Academic and Fine and Performing Arts buildings.

Wayne King, Director of the Success Center, was not available for comment. Dr. Sandra Vaden, Director of Planning and Research, provided these statistics.

“In the fall 2009, 159 students identified themselves as disabled.” Disabled is identified as having a hearing, speech, visual, orthopedic or other health impairment or a learning disability, Vaden reported.

It should be noted that not all students who have a physical impairment use handicapped parking.  Some rely on family members to drive them and others use the public transportation system.

Superintendent of Facilities and Grounds, Anthony Abriola, reported that the college is ADA compliant.

“The code requires that the college provide a total of 24 accessible parking spaces.  The college has a total of 51 spaces, and 34 are van accessible which is 25 more than required by code.”

While handicapped parking spots appear to be adequate, they are not always located in areas that are convenient for students.

“I don’t mind walking,” said Roy, a freshmen who depends on two arm crutches to get around.  “It becomes a problem when the weather is bad.  Then I worry about slipping.”

Roy takes two classes in the Academic Building.  There are only four handicapped parking places next to this building.  There are six spaces adjacent to the FPAC. Lots A-E and I-K have two to four handicapped parking areas in the front of each lot, and there are five  one hour spots outside the Enrollment Center.  Another ten spaces are reserved behind the Paul Navone Healthcare Education Center. None are located in lots G or H, and lot F is gated.

Abriola admits that parking can be tight on days where special events are taking place at the college.

Another student, Amy, does not have a problem finding a spot but it is often on the opposite side of campus from her classes.  Because she has Rheumatoid Arthritis, it is difficult for her to walk a distance.  She recently underwent hip surgery and relied on a wheelchair and crutches to navigate the campus.

Philip Cecola, Director of Safety and Security, advised, “If a student needs an escort, they can contact security. If the timing is right and a buggy is available, we will help a student out even in a temporary situation like being on crutches for a few weeks.”

What angered students who need accessible parking is the lack of consideration from others who use these spots for their own convenience.

Several anonymous students confirmed parking in handicapped spots when the weather was bad or they were late for class.

It angers Amy when she sees students using handicapped parking spots as a pickup or drop off spot.

“I’ve asked them to move.”

Margaret, who is disabled due to a back problem, has parked illegally because she could not find a handicapped parking spot next to the Academic Building. She received a ticket from campus security.

“I’m spitting mad,” she said. “There were three cars without handicapped stickers in the spots I needed.  They did not get tickets.”

The Vineland Police Department regularly patrols the campus.  If a vehicle does not have a handicapped license plate or placard, the parking fine is $250 for the first offense and another $250 for the second offense along with 90 days of community service. Vehicles are also subject to towing.

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