Person with disability speaks out on parking situation: ‘some of us don’t have a choice’

Many+OU+students+have+been+parking+in+handicapped+lots%2C+not+leaving+enough+space+for+students+with+wheelchairs+to+maneuver%2C+according+to+junior+Ize+Speilman.

Many OU students have been parking in handicapped lots, not leaving enough space for students with wheelchairs to maneuver, according to junior Ize Speilman.

By Kaylee Kean

Three days each week, Ize Speilman, a junior Japanese major, drives to Oakland University from Harrison Township. She wakes up at 5 a.m. and makes it to campus around 8 a.m. in order to secure a good parking spot.

She then gets out of her car, uses her cane to get to the left side of her vehicle, takes out her wheelchair, unfolds it, swings it around, hops in and wanders OU until her 9:20 a.m. class begins.

It isn’t always this easy. If Speilman doesn’t arrive earlier, the situation is usually much different.

This is because other students keep taking the handicap spots she needs, or parking partially on the dividing lines at the side of each spot.

“That divider between that (handicap spot) and other lots is for me to get my wheelchair out,” Speilman said. “ I don’t think people really understand  it’s not the extra 200 feet, it’s that open availability. I can get out of the door, I just can’t get my chair.”

Unless she arrives to campus early, Speilman said she has had difficulty finding wide open space nearly every time she has parked. When that happens, she has to pull her car back out into the lot, pull her chair out and hope no-one hits her $400 wheelchair while she pulls the car back into the spot.

“Some of us don’t have a choice,” Speilman said. “I had to go almost a mile in my chair. I had to go from South Foundation Hall all the way up to Human Health Building in my chair because there was no parking.”

Another thing she said she struggles with is the elevators. 

While each building on campus has an elevator, Speilman said she has had to wait almost 17 minutes for an elevator because of other people using them and not making room for her.

“You can take the stairs. You can maybe scrunch up. It’s a little uncomfortable, but you have to realize, some of us don’t have a choice … You don’t have a cane, you don’t have a chair; you’ve got Grandma’s tag.”

Speilman said she doesn’t want to target or burn anyone  she just wants to raise awareness.

“When it’s not the parking, or when it’s not the elevator, people are great,” Speilman said. “I just wish they had that same consideration for the parking and the elevator.”

Kevin Li, a junior journalism student, said he doesn’t generally encounter these problems, but notices that “People are polite  I’m not sure if they’re nice, per say, but most people are polite.”

He has cerebral palsy and is also confined to a chair. What people don’t seem to understand, he said, is that the bulk of his problems are with his ability to walk and move.

“I would just say that not everybody with a disability is mentally disabled,” Li said. “It seems like a lot of people are hesitant to talk to me for whatever reason … I don’t mind talking with people.”

Students in similar situations can share their experience with the OU Police Department or with the Office of Disability Support Services (103A North Foundation Hall  (248) 370-3266).

Learn more about Disability Support Services at oakland.edu/dss.