OPINION | Accommodation-based parking should be more available to students who need it

Parking at UCCS is quite the hassle. Whether it’s trying to find a space on the first floor of one of the parking garages or trying not to back into someone when you pull out, parking on campus is kind of a big deal.

For students who are disabled but cannot apply for a placard, however, parking at UCCS turns into a game of roulette.

About 26% of the United States has a disability. They can appear visible, as seen with the use of mobility aids, or not, as seen with mental disorders like ADHD.

Some disabilities, despite being invisible, can also limit mobility or movement due to extreme pain, like wCrohn’s disease. However, people with these sorts of disabilities are not allowed to get disabled placards to park in handicap parking in the state of Colorado.ado.

Colorado’s Department of Motor Vehicles requires one or more of the following criteria to be met before a placard can be distributed: The applicant must be unable to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest, require assisted mobility, have respiratory issues, use portable oxygen, have a cardiac condition or have limited walking ability due to an orthopedic, neurological or arthritic condition.

Since people with invisible disabilities do not always lack mobility, or only lack mobility under certain circumstances, and cannot qualify for these placards.

Crohn’s disease is one of the many invisible disabilities that can restrict mobility. Crohn’s disease, or ileitis, is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that can cause severe pains in the abdomen or joints, however, on days when a person is not experiencing symptoms, they can go about life normally with no pain.

At UCCS, if a student does not have a disabled placard and lives on campus, they must park their car in the 100 or 500s lots, or at the Alpine Garage. This means all students who are not able to get a placard and live in Summit Village are forced to walk at least 10 minutes to get to their vehicles, which can be detrimental for people who are injured or disabled but cannot apply for a handicap permit.

Shuttles are available during the week, but they are limited in availability and sometimes delayed. The shuttles themselves are not available on holidays or weekends, meaning if a disabled student needs to access campus during these times, they are often forced to go on foot.

Many disorders, disabilities and temporary medical conditions could benefit from accommodation-based parking, even if it is temporary. Students with chronic pain, for instance, would not have to worry about commuting back to their room. Students with temporary injuries would not have to walk to their cars parked in the Alpine Garage either. It would especially be beneficial for students with disabilities who do not qualify for handicap parking while living in dorms.

As a student with a gastrointestinal disorder, accommodation-based parking would be extremely helpful on days that I have flares. I tend to leave campus for things such as doctor’s appointments, groceries, etc. and not having to worry about tickets and commuting long distances with flare-ups would not only help me but also other students who struggle with similar conditions.

Just because a disability is invisible does not mean it’s not there. For those of us who are unable to apply for handicap permits due to invisible disabilities, having accommodation-based parking would benefit our experience as UCCS students and prevent future medical complications from happening.

Photo caption: Photo from alaskadmvservices.com.