Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Help Me Howard: Small Lady
If you have noticed, plenty of people have handicapped parking stickers. Some people badly need them, others make you wonder, but one South Florida woman said she needs a sticker and can't get one for a small reason. Here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- You know the type. The people who get a hangnail and have to call in sick for a week. And then you have people like Linda Shuster.
Linda Shuster: "My life is good. It is. I mean, I have no complaints, I get around."
Linda is small, 3 feet 10 inches. Doing the little things, like getting a can from a store shelf is difficult but not with her great attitude.
Linda Shuster: "I don't let nothing bother me. Notat all, it's great. I mean, my stature don't bother me, I have been like this all my life."
But in one way, Linda's height is endangering her life because drivers can't see her.
Linda Shuster: "I was at Publix two days ago walking behind the cars to get to my vehicle and almost got hit because people can not see me."
When Linda goes to a store, she has to be very careful walking through the parking lot.
Linda Shuster: "Because I can barely come up to the hood, I mean the trunk."
Linda said she doesn't blame the drivers. Her small stature makes her hard to see, but she has a simple solution. Get a handicapped sticker, that will let her park close to the store. And so she went over to the Division of Motor Vehicles.
Linda Shuster: "I ask them, 'Can I have a handicap application?', 'Why can't I get it?', and they turn around and say, 'You're not handicap.' With Linda's great attitude she can find humor about that day as she stood in line to talk to the clerk.
Linda Shuster: "And they're saying 'Next', and I go up there and i'm like jumping and the lady goes, 'Ma'am, can you go over to the handicap and sit down?' She goes, 'And we will help you there cause we can't see you.'"
She was told to go sit in the handicap section but the state wouldn't give her a blue parking sticker because she is not handicapped. So Howard, legally is someone just 46-inches tall, entitled to a handicapped parking sticker?
Howard Finkelstein: "It's an interesting question, because under the American's With Disabilities Act, Linda is probably considered disabled. But to get a handicapped sticker, Florida Law requires that you are unable to walk 200 feet without stopping. Linda is healthy and can do that. It is dangerous for her, but state law does not take danger into consideration."
Linda can get a sticker if a doctor examines her and determines she has conditions she may not be aware of. The problem with that is Linda doesn't have health insurance to pay for the visit.
Linda Shuster: "I need a doctor's permission to tell me that I am handicap and I don't have the money to do that."
Linda said the irony does amaze her. She can't get a handicapped sticker that might save her life, while many people who don't seem to have issues, have the sticker.
Linda Shuster: "I mean, I see people who have handicap out there and they walk better than you and I do. And it's like come on! If they can get it, why can't I?"
We looked for a doctor to examine Linda for free. We are still looking. And a question I got was, "how can Linda be disabled under the ADA, but the state considers her fine?" The answer is simple, the state uses a different standard to determine if you disabled. But on the bright side, Linda said she is happy and wants to be treated like everyone else, although having a handicapped sticker would be nice.
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REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com