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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Accessible Parking Coalition Formed to Address Fraudulent Use of Disabled Placards and Other Challenges Related to Accessible Parking for People with Disabilities

Parking experts, advocacy groups for people with disabilities, state and federal agencies, and academics have formed a coalition to address a wide range of issues

Sixteen people gather for a group photo at the Stakeholders’ Forum on Accessible Parking and Disabled Placard Abuse, December 6, 2017 at U.S. Access Board officesALEXANDRIA, VA – According to a preview of a national survey to be released in early 2018, 96 percent of responding people with disabilities feel the ability to find parking is an important factor in leading an independent life, yet more than one-third have problems finding accessible parking on any given day.

The most significant problems are created by drivers without disabilities who park illegally in accessible parking spots or obstruct access by parking too close to a vehicle, making it impossible for drivers with disabilities to exit or enter their vehicle. Many other challenges are reported.

About 80 percent of respondents believe accessible parking fraud and disabled placard abuse is widespread, and even more believe law enforcement of disabled-parking regulations is inadequate or non-existent.

“The more we learn, the more it is clear there is rampant disabled placard abuse that contributes to inadequate parking availability for the people who need it most,” says Shawn Conrad, CAE, CEO of the International Parking Institute. “The Accessible Parking Coalition will be dedicated to changing that, as well as addressing other challenges related to accessible parking for people with disabilities.” 

Many individual jurisdictions and agencies have been working on their own to address the problem and many have developed innovative solutions, but this is the first time accessible parking and disabled placard abuse is being looked at on a national level by a unified group of transportation officials, government agencies, advocacy groups, parking management and technology experts, disabled veterans groups, civil rights advocates, and those in the independent living movement, among others.

At a Stakeholders’ Forum on Accessible Parking and Disabled Placard Abuse held in Washington, D.C., this month, the Accessible Parking Coalition was formed. Members include:

  • American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)
  • American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
  • Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL)
  • International Parking Institute (IPI)
  • National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
  • Research and Training, Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas
  • Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities
  • United Spinal Association
  • U.S. Access Board

In addition to publication of the national survey results, one of the coalition’s first projects will be to create an online resource center that features research, news, legislative initiatives, and case studies of programs that are solving the problem. A public awareness campaign is also planned.

To receive updates or inquire on behalf of an organization interested in joining the Accessible Parking Coalition (APC), contact Helen Sullivan at the International Parking Institute at with APC in the subject line.


  1. The whole system needs to be changed. People with assistive tech, wheelchairs, and gadgets simply need more space to maneuver. Others with physical disabilities do not need wider spots but they do need to be up front.

    I don’t see why there can’t be regular sized spots at the front of the lot for those who don’t have equipment but have a hard time walking far. Those people can park in like, lets say a red space with a red placard and the blues (wider spots) have some wide spaces up front and even a few in the middle. There’s argument about the middle because people in chairs are lower and can get hit but not if there were an access isle between 2 facing spaces. I am in a wheelchair and, if the weather is good, I don’t mind rolling as long as I have a wide enough space. There needs to be better organization as we are outgrowing this outdated system. I’m tired of parking lot wars!

  2. A.J. Senay says:

    We need to make van accessible spots recognized under law , it’s realty frustrating to see are the size of golf carts legally blocking van spaces. It also high time with everyone walking around with cameras in the pocket for a nationwide accessible parking violations server that you can document violations and have tickets with the photo mailed to both the license plate holder and the registered parking placard holder compelling appearance and payment of fine or surrender of placard, if handicap parking is a low or non existent priority and duty for law enforcement then expand the available pool of enforcers to everyone with a camera and GPS that can document violations, their should also be a single server to track placards violations so that a tiered penalty system can be implemented with increasing fines nationwide ,after a certain number of offences the placard must be surrendered or the vehicle plates will be suspended much like plates are suspended if insurance isn’t paid .

    • I love this idea. There seems to be plenty of ideas but not the support to implement and enforce them. The problem is, everyone who is supposed to implement and enforce aren’t disabled. It doesn’t affect them so it isn’t a high priority. Heck, I would volunteer to go around every day and take pictures of violations. It’s gotten to the point that I have to make sure someone is with me in case I get blocked in, so they can pull my van out so the lift has room to deploy. I don’t really call that independence

  3. Jolie Stratton says:

    There is a company in Texas called Parking Mobility with an app that allows you to take photos, map the location and send a violation report. Some counties have adopted this program and the info is sent directly to the police department ticketing program and a ticket is generated and mailed to the violator.

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