How to Qualify for a Handicap Parking Permit: Medical Conditions Explained

Handicap parking permits ensure accessibility and convenience for individuals with disabilities and reduced mobility. They provide legal access to designated spaces close to building entrances or facilities, reducing barriers to participation in daily activities.

Qualifying for a handicapped parking permit is primarily based on a medical necessity arising from various physical and neurological conditions, respiratory impairments, cardiovascular diseases, visual impairments, and/or chronic pain disorders.

In this article, we provide clarification of the eligibility criteria for handicapped parking permits, explain the documentation and application process, dispel common misconceptions, underscore the importance of accessibility, and provide resources for individuals seeking further information or support.

Understanding Handicap Parking Permits

What is a Handicap Parking Permit?

A Handicap Parking Permit, commonly issued in the form of placards or license plates, serves a crucial role in facilitating accessibility for individuals with disabilities. These permits are specifically designated to provide convenient parking options close to entrances and facilities, ensuring that those with mobility challenges can access public spaces comfortably and safely.

The issuance of handicap parking permits is governed by local regulations and often requires documentation from healthcare providers confirming the individual’s disability and need for accessible parking. Once issued, these permits display a recognizable symbol, typically the international wheelchair icon, and are placed visibly in vehicles. This allows permit holders to park in designated handicapped spaces located in parking lots, on streets, or at other publicly accessible locations.

Benefits and Privileges of a Handicap Parking Placard

The primary benefit of a handicapped parking permit is the convenience and accessibility it provides. These designated parking spaces are strategically placed to minimize the distance individuals with disabilities need to travel to reach their destinations, thereby promoting independence and inclusivity. Additionally, handicap parking permits help enforce compliance with accessibility laws, ensuring that these reserved spaces are available for those who genuinely need them.

The intent behind handicapped parking permits is to remove physical barriers that could otherwise hinder individuals with disabilities from participating fully in community life. By providing close and convenient parking options, these permits contribute to creating a more accessible environment where everyone can access services, businesses, and facilities without undue hardship. Thus, they play a critical role in promoting equality and accommodating diverse mobility needs within society.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for a handicapped parking permit is carefully regulated by state and local laws to maintain fairness and accessibility. These laws establish clear criteria based on medical necessity, requiring documentation from healthcare providers to verify mobility impairments. By enforcing strict guidelines, authorities can safeguard designated parking spaces for individuals facing genuine challenges. It also prevents misuse and ensures equitable access for those who truly require closer proximity to facilities and services. 

What Is Considered a Medical Necessity

  1. Physical disabilities: Individuals with conditions affecting mobility, such as limb loss, arthritis, or paralysis, may qualify for a handicap parking permit.
  2. Neurological conditions: Disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or cerebral palsy that significantly impair mobility may warrant a handicapped parking permit.
  3. Respiratory impairments: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), severe asthma, or other conditions limiting the ability to walk long distances may qualify for a permit.
  4. Cardiovascular diseases: Heart conditions that severely restrict physical activity, such as congestive heart failure or severe angina, may meet eligibility criteria.
  5. Visual impairments: Individuals with significant vision loss or blindness that affects mobility may qualify for a permit.
  6. Chronic pain disorders: Conditions like fibromyalgia or chronic back pain that impose substantial limitations on mobility may also justify a handicapped parking permit.

Documentation and Application Process

Medical documentation

Applicants typically need a physician’s certification or documentation from a healthcare provider confirming the medical condition and its impact on mobility. This documentation is essential in proving eligibility for a handicapped parking permit.

Application procedures

The process for applying varies by jurisdiction but generally involves completing an application form, submitting medical documentation, and paying any applicable fees. Applications may be submitted to state motor vehicle departments or local disability services offices. You can also use alternative platforms, such as a Dr. Handicap. We offer an online service that serves as an intermediary between handicapped drivers and state DMVs to secure handicapped car tags for drivers.

Alternative Permit Options

Some states provide temporary handicap parking permits for short-term disabilities like recovery from surgery or injury. These permits are time-limited, featuring expiration dates and necessitating renewal upon medical review to ensure continued eligibility and appropriate use of accessible parking spaces.

Common Misconceptions for Qualified Applicants

Who qualifies?

There is often confusion about who qualifies for a handicapped parking permit. Eligibility for a handicapped parking permit hinges on medical necessity due to mobility impairment, not solely on the diagnosis. This distinction aims to ensure that individuals facing significant mobility challenges, regardless of their specific condition, can access the designated parking spaces essential for their daily activities.

Here are examples of medical conditions where individuals may qualify for a handicapped parking permit based on mobility impairment rather than a specific diagnosis:

  1. Orthopedic Conditions: Such as arthritis, joint replacements, or severe back problems that limit walking distance.
  2. Neurological Disorders: Including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke sequelae that affect mobility.
  3. Cardiovascular Conditions: Such as severe heart disease or pulmonary conditions that cause difficulty walking.
  4. Respiratory Disorders: Like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that impairs physical exertion.
  5. Musculoskeletal Disorders: Such as severe osteoporosis or fractures that impair mobility.
  6. Visual Impairments: Where mobility is significantly affected despite functional vision.
  7. Cancer Treatment: Such as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy that affects walking ability.
  8. Genetic Disorders: Like muscular dystrophy or spina bifida affecting mobility.

These examples illustrate how a variety of conditions can lead to significant mobility impairments, warranting the need for a handicapped parking permit to ensure accessibility to essential services and activities.

Temporary vs. Permanent Permits

Temporary permits are issued for short-term disabilities, while permanent permits are for long-term or permanent conditions. Both types require medical documentation but may differ in duration and renewal requirements.

Dispelling Myths

Misconceptions about handicapped parking permits include beliefs that they are easily obtained or primarily used by individuals who may not appear to have disabilities. In reality, permits are issued based on stringent medical criteria to ensure they are reserved for those who truly need them. 

Importance of Accessibility for Handicap Drivers

Advocacy and Impact of Accessible Parking

Accessible parking plays a vital role in fostering inclusive communities where individuals with disabilities can participate fully in social, recreational, and economic activities.

Accessible parking not only benefits permit holders but also improves overall accessibility for the aging population, individuals recovering from injuries or surgeries, and caregivers assisting those with disabilities.

Where to Find Resources and Support

Government agencies

State motor vehicle departments or departments of disability services offer comprehensive guidance on handicap parking permits. They provide detailed information on eligibility criteria, application procedures, necessary documentation, and legal obligations for both permit holders and enforcement. This ensures compliance with accessibility laws and equitable access to designated parking spaces.

Disability Advocacy Organizations

Organizations like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the American Council of the Blind provide valuable resources, support networks, and advocacy for individuals navigating the process of obtaining handicapped parking permits. They offer guidance on eligibility criteria, application procedures, and rights under disability laws to ensure equitable access to essential parking accommodations.

Community Support

Local disability support groups and community organizations serve as vital resources for individuals seeking handicap parking permits. They provide personalized assistance, including navigating bureaucratic processes, understanding eligibility criteria based on specific disabilities, and offering advocacy to ensure that accessible parking needs are met in various settings. These groups also foster community awareness and education about disability rights and accessibility issues.

Do You Qualify for a Handicapped Parking Permit?

Handicap parking permits are essential for individuals with disabilities to access daily activities conveniently and safely. Eligibility is based on medical necessity supported by appropriate documentation. For individuals facing mobility challenges, obtaining a handicapped parking permit can significantly enhance independence and quality of life. It’s important to explore available resources and seek support throughout the application process.

Increasing awareness about handicapped parking permits and advocating for accessible parking spaces also contribute to creating more inclusive communities where everyone can participate fully.

In conclusion, understanding the medical conditions that qualify for a handicapped parking permit is crucial for ensuring equitable access to essential services and activities for individuals with disabilities. By clarifying eligibility criteria, dispelling misconceptions, and highlighting the importance of accessibility, we can empower individuals to navigate the process of obtaining a handicapped parking permit with confidence and awareness of their rights and responsibilities.

Featured image by Mart Production on Pexels.

4 Car Conversion Tips For Disabled Drivers

Having a physical disability absolutely does not need to prevent you from enjoying the freedom and independence that driving your own vehicle allows. The ability to get around, go where you want when you want, and to live life on your own terms, is a right and not a luxury. And in 2021, disabled drivers have fewer limitations on their freedom than ever before!

A myriad of excellent vehicle modification options now exist for disabled drivers. The world of vehicle adaptations and modifications is rich in innovation. Modern technological progress has made it possible for a raft of extremely effective new disabled vehicle adaptations to come to market over the last decade.

There is a raft of options to choose from when adapting a vehicle for use by a disabled driver. Of course, everything depends on the specific needs and requirements of the driver. Choosing what vehicle adaptations are best for you can be exciting, but also daunting. Today we’ll discuss some helpful car conversion tips for disabled drivers.

Dr Handicap - hand controls
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay: There are lots of options when it comes to converting a car for a disabled driver.

How Do You Make A Car Handicap Accessible?

How you go about making a car handicap accessible is dependent on what the requirements of the driver will be. There are a lot of different adaptations and modifications available for disabled drivers. It is important that you understand your own needs and that you are aware of all of the options available to you.

Some disabled drivers will need only very minimal modifications, such as installation of a steering wheel knob. Other drivers will need to install full hand controls or raise the ceiling or roof of their vehicle.

What Are Modified Cars For Disabled Drivers?

You can get a modified car for disabled drivers that is specially made in the factory for use by people with disabilities. Alternatively, you can modify your own vehicle by adding adaptations and modifications once the car has left the factory. Modifications can be added to older vehicles easily and effectively.

How Can I Make My Car Wheelchair-Accessible?

There are plenty of options for making your car wheelchair-accessible. The most popular adaptations for wheelchair users are:

  • Wheelchair lifts
  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Dropped floors
  • Raised ceilings
  • Seat modifications

How Do You Go About Converting A Car For A Disabled Driver?

Some disabled drivers like to buy a vehicle that has been specially manufactured for use by disabled people. However, most disabled drivers prefer to use their own vehicle and have conversions done by professionals or to do their conversions themselves. This is usually a cheaper option.

What Vehicle Conversions Are Available For Disabled Drivers?

The most common vehicle conversions for disabled drivers are:

  • Hand controls
  • Adaptive steering devices
  • Adaptive ignition controls
  • Automatic doors
  • Pedal or seat belt extenders
  • Left-foot accelerators
  • Seat modifications
  • Wheelchair lifts and ramps
  • Raised roof
  • Dropped floor
Dr Handicap - wheelchair
Image by stevepb on Pixabay: There are lots of options for making your car wheelchair-accessible.

Top Car Conversion Tips For Disabled Drivers

1. Keep An Open Mind

When planning to get a vehicle conversion, it helps to keep an open mind. Only a decade ago, the options in this space were much more limited than they are today. You may be surprised to discover how much amazing technology is now available that can make life much easier for disabled drivers.

2. Put Safety First

Always have safety at the front of your mind when deciding what adaptations to choose for your vehicle. Ultimately, the most important element of a car conversion is that it is enjoyable, easy, and safe to use.

3. Ask The Experts

Often the best people to ask when choosing car conversions as a disabled driver are disabled driving instructors or disabled driving schools. Professionals in the disabled driving space are experts and will be up to date on the newest technology, so avail of their expertise. They will be happy to advise.

4. Shop Around

Don’t just jump in and buy the first thing that gets you excited. There are big differences in price between different garages, dealerships, and manufacturers. Do your bank balance a favor and shop around when buying disabled driver adaptations for your vehicle.

How Do You Apply For A Disabled Parking Permit?

If you’re a disabled driver and don’t already have a disabled parking permit, now’s the time to get one. The best way to apply for a disabled parking permit is to arrange a telemedicine consultation with a licensed physician through the Dr. Handicap online clinic. Dr. Handicap will arrange a video chat with a licensed physician in your state who will examine you and verify your disability.

Once your suitability for a disabled parking permit has been confirmed, the physician will certify the forms needed for you to acquire access to your state’s handicap parking program. It is a quick and simple procedure.

Featured image by Dan Gold on Unsplash

4 Things Family Members Of Disabled Drivers Should Know

Disabled adults face many challenges, but driving doesn’t have to be one of them. In fact, there are some ways that driving can be made much easier for those with disabilities. As a family member of someone who has a disability, you should understand what laws apply to disabled drivers, the education driving with disability requires, and how some vehicles may need to be modified. Here are all the things family members of disabled drivers should know.

1. Laws Surrounding Driving With Disability

Many federal laws oversee the ability of a person with a disability to drive on the roads. When discussing these driving laws, disabled usually refers to someone who has lost the use of one or more limbs and has to have adjustments made to a car in order to operate it.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled Americans are protected from being discriminated against both in the workplace and while accessing public services. A state’s Department of Motor Vehicles cannot deny a driver’s license to someone based solely on their disability status under the law. The law also states that disabled parking spaces must be available in parking lots, and must be wide enough to accommodate accessible vehicles with a ramp for wheelchairs.

Dr Handicap - parking lot
Image by Brydon McCluskey on Unsplash: Driving with a disability can be complicated. Make sure both you and the driver know the disabled driving laws.

Every state has its own laws surrounding disabled drivers, but some things are common across all states, such as the requirement of disabled drivers to disclose their disability to the DMV. The state may issue a restricted driver’s license based on the disability status of the person (mobility issues, limited vision, a hearing disability, etc.). The ways vehicles must be modified for disabilities differ from state to state, so if you have questions, make sure to contact your local DMV for more information.

2. Driver’s Education For Those With Disabilities

The driver’s education required for those with disabilities to obtain a driver’s license are much the same as any other driver’s education course, except that they may need specialized training based on any specific controls installed on a vehicle to help accommodate for their disability.

As with any other driver, a disabled driver must be at least 16, though driver’s education classes can begin at age 15. A theory test and a practical road test must be passed in order to obtain a driver’s license.

3. Requirements For Vehicles

Vehicle modifications for disabled drivers are based on the particular disability in question. Vehicles should include a feature that enables easy shifting and automatic transmission. It’s also a requirement for a disabled driver’s vehicle to have power steering, windows, seats, and locks.

Some disabled drivers may need a lift to access their vehicle and hand grips to transfer. If a driver is unable to use accelerator and brake pedals, their vehicles must have hand controls. However, you’ll want to check with your state to see what modifications are legal, since spinner knobs that make turning a wheel easier for a person with a disability have been outlawed in some states.

Dr Handicap - parking sign
Image by AbsolutVision on Unsplash: A driving license for physically handicapped people and vehicle modifications for disabled drivers can help individuals get around on their own.

4. Disabled Parking Permits

Another important item that may be required for a disabled driver is a disabled parking permit. The DMVs in each state issue these specialized parking permits, which may be given on a permanent or short-term basis. You need to check with your state to find out what the qualifying conditions are for a disabled parking permit; what forms must be filled out by the disabled driver and their doctor to secure one; and the cost, if any, of getting one.

A disabled parking permit will allow the driver to park in handicap-accessible spaces in parking garages and parking lots. These spaces are closer to the main entrance and have extra room for putting down a ramp for wheelchair access. Disabled parking may also allow a disabled driver to park on a street without paying the meter or to ignore parking with time limits. However, these privileges differ from state to state and even city to city, so you’ll need to make sure you and your disabled family member familiarize yourselves with state and local laws surrounding disabled parking.

Featured image by Josh Appel on Unsplash

What Are The Best Car Modifications For Drivers With Limited Hand And Arm Movement?

People who have limited use of their hands and arms have difficulties in many areas of life. But driving your own vehicle doesn’t have to be one of them, especially when vehicles can be modified to suit disabled drivers’ needs.

In the instance where someone cannot drive a car without modifications, there are several simple changes they can make to give them access to freedom and the open road.

Is it a law to drive with two hands?

When a person is first learning to drive, they’re usually told that both hands should be on the wheel at all times. Perhaps your instructor told you that your hands belong at 10 and 2, or 3 and 9. Where a person places their hands on the wheel will vary depending on who taught them to drive – but there is no actual law to back up these lessons.

When a person is operating a motor vehicle, it is safety and focus that benefits the most from having both hands on the wheel. How many hands are on the wheel, or the exact position they’re in, is not a legal issue, but rather one that’s designed to teach people how to handle a vehicle when they are first learning.

Dr Handicap - driving with one hand
Image by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash: Can you drive an automatic car with one arm?

Can you drive an automatic car with one arm?

Driving a car with one arm may be difficult, but it is not impossible. A manually driven vehicle does require the use of two arms, because the gearstick needs to be constantly moved. This type of vehicle cannot be operated by a person with only one arm.

A vehicle with automatic transmission is a different story. This is because there is no gearstick that needs to be moved while driving. A person with one arm can navigate the roads with ease using one hand. They may want to opt for a wheel spinner to use with their arm for better control and access to some controls.

Car modifications for amputees

There are several modifications that can be made to a personal vehicle if its driver has lost the use of one or more of their limbs. These modifications make driving accessible and safe. Many vehicles now come equipped with some of the features that would have been considered modifications in older model cars. Things such as power steering and power brakes can be found in most off-the-line vehicles, so these modifications won’t likely need to be added to a vehicle you’re purchasing.

A pedal extension can be a great tool for those with an amputated leg. It allows the driver to control the brakes with reduced effort and to sit comfortably while driving. A left-foot accelerator is another great tool for leg amputees, because it puts the accelerator pedal on both sides of the brake.

Extended arm indicators can help those with arm amputations by offering an extension to controls such as turn signals and windshield wipers. That way, the driver has easy access to all the controls they need while driving.

Swivel seats can also be a great help when getting in and out of the car for someone who uses a wheelchair. In vehicles that are high off the ground, a Turny orbit will be used as a swivel seat to have the same effect. Another great modification for those who use a wheelchair is a full or half-dropped lowered floor. This gives those with wheelchairs easy access to driving as well as storage of their chair while getting from point A to point B. A wheelchair ramp can also be installed in many vans to assist the driver getting in and out of the vehicle.

Dr Handicap - disabled signage
Image by Marianne Bos on Unsplash: What are the best modifications for drivers with limited hand and arm movement?

How much does it cost to convert a car to hand controls?

Hand controls help those without access to foot pedals to drive using only their hands. The cost to convert a car to hand controls can vary depending on the disability and the vehicle in question. Specific car models may also play a role in how much it will cost to modify the car with hand controls. The car in question must also have power brakes, power steering, and an automatic transmission in order to be modified with hand controls.

As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $1600 to have your car equipped with hand controls. Considering the freedom it provides to those with amputations or no use of their legs, it’s an affordable modification that’s worth every penny.

Driving with limited hand or arm movement can be difficult to master, but with the right tools and modifications, it doesn’t have to be. These changes are generally inexpensive and well worth the cost to be able to drive freely. 

Featured image by Andy Art on Unsplash

Amputee Ring, Spinner Knob & Quad Fork: Everything You Need To Know About Adaptive Driving Aids

Being able to drive gives you freedom and enables you to go where you want, when you want. Owning your own vehicle opens up the world and allows you to live on your own terms.

Having a disability certainly does not have to prevent you living a life of freedom. Those of us with limited mobility can still enjoy the independence and increased options that driving brings.

It’s true that having certain types of disability can make driving a vehicle with standard controls difficult or impossible. But thankfully, modern technology has come to the rescue to solve many of the problems of driving with a disability.

There are lots of different types of adaptive vehicles and vehicle modifications that can make driving with a disability easy. Adaptive driving equipment makes it possible for people with a wide range of physical disabilities to drive their own vehicle and enjoy the benefits of vehicle ownership.

Technology is always evolving, so people tend to have a lot of questions about adaptive driving and adaptive driving aids… What is an adaptive vehicle? What types of adaptive driving equipment are available? What are hand controls for cars? How does adaptive driving equipment installation work?

Read on for everything you need to know about adaptive driving aids.

Dr Handicap - adaptive vehicle
Image by freestocks-photos on Pixabay: Adaptive driving aids give their users increased freedom.

What Is An Adaptive Vehicle?

An adaptive vehicle is a vehicle that has been altered in some way to enable it to be driven by a person with a physical disability. Almost any type of vehicle can be adapted, but the most common types of adapted vehicles are cars, vans, trucks, motorcycles, and scooters.

What Is Adaptive Driving Equipment?

Adaptive driving equipment comes in many different forms. Adaptive driving equipment is any piece of equipment added to a vehicle to make it drivable by a person with a physical disability.

How Does Adaptive Driving Equipment Installation Work?

Adaptive driving equipment installation works in three main ways. It can be installed while the vehicle is being built; added to an existing vehicle by a specialist mechanic; or, if it is a simpler piece of equipment, installed by the vehicle owner themselves.

What Are Adaptive Driving Aids?

Adaptive driving aids are pieces of equipment, gadgets, or vehicle modifications that make it easier for a person with limited mobility to operate a vehicle.

How Do Adaptive Driving Aids Help Disabled Drivers?

Adaptive driving aids help disabled drivers in numerous ways. The most common ways include:

  • Making the entire vehicle operable with hands only
  • Ensuring less force is required to operate the vehicle
  • Changing the dimensions of the vehicle to make it easier to operate

How Do You Get Adaptive Driving Aids?

You can purchase adaptive driving aids and have them installed in your vehicle, or you can buy vehicles with driving aids already installed.

How Much Do Adaptive Driving Aids Cost?

The cost of adaptive driving aids varies massively depending on what type you require. Digital accelerator rings often start at $12,000, and push/pull accelerator/brake devices cost between $1,000–$6,000, whereas amputee rings and spinner knobs can be as cheap as $100.

Does Medicare Pay For Adaptive Driving Aids?

Medicare will usually cover the cost of adaptive driving aids if they are deemed to be necessary “durable medical equipment”.

Dr Handicap - disabled drivers
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay: Adaptive driving aids open up the world to disabled drivers.

What Are The Most Common Adaptive Driving Aids?

Amputee Ring

An amputee ring is a small steel ring that attaches to the steering wheel to enable an amputee to maneuver the wheel.

Spinner Knob

A spinner knob is a knob that attaches to the steering wheel to make it easier to turn the wheel. It also makes it possible to turn the wheel with one hand.

Quad Fork

A quad fork is a device that attaches to the steering wheel and makes it easier for a person with reduced hand strength, or somebody who can only use one hand, to control the steering wheel.

Hand Controls For Cars

Hand controls allow you to operate the gas, brake, and clutch pedals with your hands instead of your feet.

The most common hand controls are:

  • Steering wheel-mounted remote-control devices that operate vehicle controls
  • Push/pull accelerator/brake devices
  • Over-ring and ghost under-wheel accelerators
  • Brake levers
  • Trigger operated accelerator/brake devices
  • Stick-steer steering devices with secondary controls
  • Floor-mount mechanical accelerator/brake levers

How To Get A Disabled Parking Permit

If you drive an adaptive vehicle and you have not yet gotten a disabled parking permit, now is the time to take action. The disabled parking permit application process couldn’t be easier. The best way to get the ball rolling is to set up an online consultation with a medical professional through Dr. Handicap.

Featured image by Patrik Ferro on Unsplash