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Handicapped parking permits are being abused. It seems that anyone with the slightest excuse can get one. And many drivers use these permits even when the disabled person is not onboard.

I recently attended a party at a downtown hotel with my husband, who is in a wheelchair because he cannot walk or stand. When we arrived, it was raining. All of the handicapped spaces were taken, so the attendant directed us to a ramp that is connected to the hotel.

When we got to the ramp door, which was marked "elevator," we were faced with about 12 steps before gaining access to the elevator. This wouldn't work, so the attendant told us to park in the fire lane in front of the hotel. When I complained at the front desk, they said, "Don't worry, it's private property."

When we left the party, that roadway was jam-packed with cars. A fire engine or emergency vehicle would never have been able to enter.

One Sunday afternoon, I took my husband to a show at Shea's Performing Arts Center. One must admit the brickwork on the street and sidewalk does a stone-mason proud. But did anyone consider the optical illusion?

A young woman in her motorized wheelchair mistook the curb for the ramp and had to be rushed to the hospital after a nasty spill. Why don't we have handicapped people test these facilities to be sure they are wheelchair-accessible?

I think handicapped tags should be color-coded to designate the degree of the handicap.

I notice a lot of people today are driving these big vans. Yet nine times out of 10, when a handicapped tag is hanging on the visor, the van is not a ramped vehicle. I'd like to know how a truly handicapped person can climb into that front seat. It's time to start enforcing the laws that were created to protect the disabled.

Mary Weschenfelder Tonawanda

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