Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Apparently I'm That Short.

Ok, so I already posted this on a facebook note, but I had a lot of fun writing and researching it, so now it's on here! Love to all!

Alright, this is a note for clarification:

I am 4'11".

Yeah, not that exciting actually, but it sure is a great topic for people to argue their "knowledge" on requirements for getting a handicap parking permit.

Since I have received my driver's license at the age of 16, I have had several people talk to me each month, whether stranger or acquaintance, about how I am either legally a midget or that I can at least get a handicap parking permit. Of course, I usually say,

"Actually, midget isn't actually a proper name- most prefer 'little person.' Plus, I am anatomically proportionate- I don't have a larger head or short extremities." (short extremities is called dysplasia, btw)

Then they tell me, "No, I'm pretty sure that you can get a handicap pass"

me: "No, I'm actually very sure that I don't qualify because I am not considered disabled in any way"

person: "Well, you're 4'11" and anyone under 5'0" is considered a midget, so that qualifies you. Anyway, my friend's great aunt's niece's 2nd cousin's step-son's best friend's daughter has a handicap pass and she's under 5'0" ."

me: "Um, ok. I'll look into that."

Aside from that conversation, I often have people come up to me in classes or social settings ask me how tall I am, express their surprise, and tell me that they have an friend, relative, co-worker, or some relationship to a fellow 4'11er". Maybe I should start asking how tall these people are and tell them that I know someone their height too.

I think that I'm ok with people asking how tall I am- people's curiosity get the best of them and I suppose I am sort of an outlier when it comes to height, but what bothers me is when someone tells me something I know is not true. In all my years of being under 5'0" and almost always being smaller than my peers, I have never had any physician or any health professional tell me that I qualify for a handicap pass. I am healthy: I can run a mile in less than 10 minutes, I don't get out breath walking 200 ft or less, and all of my extremities have not posed any immobility challenges. Where all these people who've come up to me got that notion that I am disabled, I have no idea. Probably from some friend's friend who saw a little person come out of a vehicle that had a handicap placard. What bothers me even more is that people are suggesting that I look into getting a handicap pass so that I can get the closer parking spaces at school or the grocery store. Is that not one of the most selfish things you've ever heard? Why in the world do I want to park closer in a spot specifically for people who have real problems like not being able to walk without keeling over? Yeah, I agree, it's very rude.

Just in case disbelief still resides with you, here are some official sources about handicap parking permits in the states I've lived in:

Disabled Parking Permit and Placard
295.5. A "disabled person" is any of the following:
(a) Any person who has lost, or has lost the use of, one or more lower extremities or both hands, or who has significant limitation in the use of lower extremities, or who has diagnosed disease or disorder which substantially impairs or interferes with mobility, or who is so severely disabled as to be unable to move without the aid of an assistant device.
(b) Any person who is blind to the extent that the person's central visual acuity does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye, with corrective lenses, as measured by the Snellen test, or visual acuity that is greater than 20/200, but with a limitation in the field of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle not greater than 20 degrees.
(c) Any person who suffers from lung disease to the extent of any of the following:
(1) The person's forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for one second when measured by spirometry is less than one liter.
(2) The person's arterial oxygen tension (pO2) is less than 60 mm/Hg on room air while the person is at rest.
(d) Any person who is impaired by cardiovascular disease to the extent that the person's functional limitations are classified in severity as class III or class IV based upon standards accepted by the American Heart Association.
Added Ch. 554, Stats. 1989. Effective January 1, 1990.

Disabled Parking Placard
Are You Eligible?
A disabled person includes any person who is unable to walk 200 feet or more
unassisted by another person or without the aid of a walker, crutches, braces,
prosthetic device or a wheelchair; or without great difficulty or discomfort due to any of
the following impairment types: neurologic, orthopedic, respiratory, cardiac, arthritic,
blindness, or the loss of function or absence of a limb or limbs.

Conditions for Special Parking Placards or Registration Plates:
Has lung disease to such an extent that forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for one second, when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter, or arterial oxygen tension (pO2) is less than 60 mm/hg on room air at rest.
Has cardiovascular disease limitations classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to the standards set by the American Heart Association.
Is unable to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest.
Is unable to walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, or other assistance device.
Requires a wheelchair for mobility.
Has lost an arm, hand, foot, or leg. See Note (D) “Certification Under Maryland Law.”
Has lost the use of an arm, hand, foot, or leg.
Has a permanent disability that adversely impacts the ambulatory ability of the applicant and which is so severe that the person would endure a hardship or be subject to a risk or injury if the privileges accorded a person from whom a vehicle is specially registered were denied.
Has a permanent impairment of both eyes so that: 1) The central vision acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye, with corrective glasses, or 2) There is a field defect in which the peripheral field has contracted to such an extent that the widest diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye. See Note (C) “Certification Under Maryland Law”.
Temporary Placard (red)
Disability is not permanent but would substantially impair the person’s mobility or limit or impair the person’s ability to walk for at least three weeks, and is so severe that the person would endure a hardship or be subject to risk of injury if the Temporary Placard were denied.

Well, there's some light reading :) 

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