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Saturday, June 22, 2024
Disabled at UW

parking: Transportation Services will eliminate 55 disabled parking spaces on campus and require $495-permits for many handicap spots.

Disabled at UW

Jayme Memmel drove himself to campus every day last year, and often had to park five or six blocks from his classes. For someone who is a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, that distance can be problematic.

"My chair broke down twice in the winter because of where I had to park," Memmel, a recent UW-Madison graduate, said.

This year, UW-Madison Transportation Services plans to change disabled parking on campus. According to the plans, the university will eliminate 55 disabled spots in total, as well as change some from state disabled parking spaces to handicap spots that require university permits. The permits cost $495 a year.

Casey Newman, associate director at UW-MadisonTransportation Services, said the changes for most of the spots are based on data collected about how often the parking is used.

"It doesn't really do anybody any good to have a lot of disabled spots in a part of campus where nobody uses them," Newman said.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the proposal does not violate Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

But Memmel said little usage does not mean spots are unnecessary, and that eliminating them will hurt people with both power and manual wheelchairs, as well as those with walkers or other physical disabilities.

"Even if they are used once a week or once a month, if somebody is handicapped they need to be as close to the doors as possible," Memmel said.

Memmel said he would often park at the Educational Sciences building on Johnson Street, and then have to go to the Education building on Bascom Hill in his wheelchair. Although the parking garage under the Education building has handicap spots, Memmel said the ramp down into the garage is too steep for him to drive down, so it was not an option.

He also had trouble finding spots with enough room to park and get his wheelchair out of his van.

"They don't have enough of those spots around, and some of those spots they do have, certainly where I went to class, are very hard to get at," Memmel said.

Under the new plan, some disabled parking spaces are being widened to comply with ADA standards, Newman said.

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Another change will move some state handicapped spots into garages, which Newman said will make the spaces more usable to those with disabilities during the winter.

However, some disabled vans, including Memmel's, do not fit under the eight-foot clearance level of many garages.

The department tried to look at the big picture when making the changes but, according to Newman, encountered logistical issues with the hilly campus terrain.

"The point of it was to look at accessibility from a campus-wide perspective," Newman said. "We don't think that that had been done very much in the past, or done recently at all."

Newman said Transportation Services tried to provide the most accessible accommodations they could despite the logistical challenges they faced.

Although the plan was scheduled to begin last summer, Newman said very little has been done at this point. The department hopes to finish the project by the end of next summer.

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