Saskatoon woman sick of insulting notes left on her wheelchair accessible van
“You are parked like a complete jackass,” said Desirée Parisien, reading a note left on her wheelchair accessible van.
“You are in two spots, one of which is for pregnant ladies. Stupidity is not a handicap. Use your wheelchair sticker for a better cause. Don’t use it for an excuse,” the note continued.
Parisien is getting used to finding mean-spirited notes on the windshield of her side-lift van. She has a form of muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair to get around. The modified van is an important tool for the busy mom.
"I don’t let my disability stop me from anything,” Parisien said. “I do the grocery shopping in my family. I take my daughter to school. I take her to and from activities. We go out and do mother and daughter activities. We go out and do other activities throughout the day, like an average mother would do. "
When the mother first started driving the van and receiving notes, the cruel words just made her sad. After years of notes, however, the sadness has turned to frustration and anger.
Her husband Scott Parisien can’t understand why people become so worked up over a parking spot.
“It makes you angry,” he said. “It blows my mind that people would actually see a car that's parked angled — whether or not it's got a wheelchair sticker or not — and take the time to stop, write a note and put it in the windshield to be hurtful to someone else because of a parking space.”
Accessibility advocates say the parking spots just aren’t wide enough for a side-lift van.
“It’s often because of the aesthetics of the parking lot, because we want to put in curbs with rocks or concrete so that we can have planters or trees,” said Tammy Reihl, fundraising and community development coordinator with Muscular Dystrophy Canada. “By putting that into a spot right by van accessible parking spot, you now are creating a barrier.”
But the angry notes are an even larger barrier, she added.
“It is absolutely demoralizing,” Reihl said. “Everyone has the right to be able to go to a shopping mall and be able to park in a parking spot, and it’s very discriminatory to receive those notes and it kind of challenges their ability that they want to be out in the public.”
The Parisiens said they hope developers start building parking spots that meet more than the minimum accessibility requirements and, of course, that the notes stop appearing on their windshield.