Putting the shoe on the other foot for disability rights



This week Campbell Live conducted an experiment in Three Lamps, Auckland that replicated one that was done in Portugal last year.

Protesters, or in the New Zealand case the Campbell Live crew, filled empty car parks with wheelchairs that had signs on them imitating excuses given by able-bodied motorists who take up wheelchair parking spaces. Excuses include “I’ll only be 5 minutes” or “there are plenty of parks around the corner”.

All the motorists who were driving by had similar reactions; that it was an inconvenience to them but also that it was a good idea.

Personally I thought it was a brilliant idea. Putting the shoe on the other foot always seems to be the most effective way to prove to people that our screaming, yelling and angry spurts is for nothing. The point remains though that we shouldn’t have to resort to that sort of action. People should have the empathy to understand that these spots are reserved for us for a reason and that we need them for a reason.

We aren’t to know that you’re only going to be 5 minutes. When we see a spot that is taken by someone who shouldn’t be there, all we see is an inconvenience no matter how long they’re there for. And its not always just about how close it in to the destination, so the ‘there are other spots available’ excuse doesn’t really work either. These spots are also wider, which provides room for people who need to get in and out of their wheelchairs – something that is not so easy to do in an ordinary parking spot.

I hope this form of protest opens the eyes of people who don’t see the issue with parking in mobility parking spots. If it doesn’t, I don’t know what will.


  1. “Putting the shoe on the other foot”

    Well actually you are just randomly kicking any innocent individual instead of targeting the actual culprits.

    Why not just hang around some disabled parking and when a culprit appears rush them with the camera and microphone?

    • Kiwi_Guy is correct in saying that the action punishes those who respect Disabled Parks more than the actual culprits.

      When was the last time you saw disabled parks policed? Enforcement is the answer. If offenders were handed $1,000 fines and 50 demerit points per offence you would see the majority of illegal disabled park users choosing other alternatives very quickly.

    • True, but those affected and interviewed didn’t seem to mind. Most felt it was an issue that needed highlighting, a few minutes of trouble didn’t ‘seem’ to bother them. They and others, got the point. But, I have a camera and microphone and will do as you suggest one day.
      I’m just in the process of applying for a mobility scooter from the lottery grant. That’ll make filming (and everthing)much, much easier.

  2. We need more such actions and protests, to raise awareness. Perhaps a kind of “occupy action” outside WINZ offices all over the country, to raise awareness about the shocking treatment of some disabled, especially those with not easily noticeable mental illness issues, which WINZ staff dish out.

    A sit in or lie in outside the offices, on the pavement, that would raise eyebrows, I believe.

    Maybe some activists can consider this, to organise disabled and not disabled, to join forces and take such actions. There will of course be many other actions that could be taken outside public buildings with disabled car parks, or outside ACC offices and so many other places.

    And for those that may have had some vague hope, that Paula Bennett and this (rotten) government may perhaps see the light, and concede some failures and mistakes, I am sorry, you will wait in vain, it will NOT come and happen:

    ‘Bennett: No changes at Work and Income’


    Yes, I fear we need to take much more pro-active, resolute, firm and aggressively attacking action than just write about issues!

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