Wilmington Health removed signs from its parking lot Thursday that said handicap spaces are for the severely disabled. Nine signs were taken down after a patient called to voice concerns that the signs may not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The signs read:
"It's not enough to have a tag. Handicap spaces are for the severely disabled. To qualify, your disability must be so severe that:
- You cannot walk 200 feet without a wheelchair, artificial leg, walker, cane, crutch or supplemental oxygen.
- Minimal activity causes significant heart disease symptoms.
- You are totally blind.
Please do not park in a parking space if you are not severely disabled."
Suzi Kearns, the chief compliance officer for Wilmington Health, said the signs had been there for a long time, and that staff was not certain of the original intent behind them.
"I think when you look at the North Carolina regulations and you look at what North Carolina DMV requires, it's a much more inclusive list than what was listed there," Kearns said.
Kearns believes that the signs had been overlooked, and discussion Thursday led to their removal.
"We're here to serve our patients. That's what we do, and we want their input and we want to help them in any way and every way that we can," she said.
Corye Dunn, the director of public policy at Disability Rights NC, responded to a request for comment with the following statement:
"North Carolina permits any vehicle bearing an appropriate placard or license plate to use an accessible parking space. North Carolina does not have multiple categories of accessible spaces based on severity of disability."
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