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Signs of the Times?

Adverbox, a blog for self-described advertising voyeurs, and CoolzOr, which examines the treacherous minefield of marketing thoughts, both feature what appears to be a guerilla advocacy campaign (which seems to originate from, of all places, Latvia) designed to put non-disabled accessible parking spot stealers in their place.

At first glance, the gonzo signs which feature a knock-off of the familiar wheelchair-using access symbol, look official enough.

Until you read them.

No confusion there. More examples after the jump.

While details about the origin of the campaign remain sketchy at best, the effort raises a few questions:

Is the "in-your-face" campaign the work of an advertising agency? And, if so, who hired them?

If consumer-driven, why haven't other groups, in other places, joined in the fight?

Is frustration with legal proceedings and slow as molasses bureaucracy inspiring disabled citizens to take the law into their own hands?

What say you, circus-goers ... should activists take a page from guerillas and vigilantes in making the blatant wrongs which keep disabled people from full participation in society right?

The forum discussions over at Adverbox and CoolzOr are just starting to get lively.

Don't forget to feed the meter.

Posted by Lawrence Carter-Long


I wrote about this on the Disability Studies blog yesterday and today, and did a little digging--apparently the placards are translations of a Latvian ad campaign from 2004, by an edgy Riga agency called ZOOM! Read more...


An Adverbox commenter points to a Latvian ad agency that apparently created the ads as part of a campaign competition.

So, we probably won't find them in "our" neck of the woods, but maybe we ought to. Nothing like a healthy shock to raise awareness, right?

People who know me will verify that I'm as "In Your Face" as anyone on Earth. I have stickers that I printed myself on the cheapest, stickiest paper I can find that will NOT come off with anything short of a razor blade that say "Stupidity is not a federally recognized disability. Park somewhere else!" that I will slap right in the middle of someone's windshield in a heartbeat. I'm also not a prude. I know every swear word in the English language and many other languages and have personally used every one of them on one occasion or another. However, as I aged I realized that if you really want to get your point across and want people to pay attention, swearing is not the way to do it. So, while I heartily applaud the spirit of this sign, this kind of thing will ultimately do the disability community more harm than good. Clean it up, boys and girls, if you truly want to get somewhere with your campaign.

These signs are great, aside from the 3rd one, which I think really creates a hierarchy in what is deemed socially desirable… which is not being a gimp.

Without the inclusion of the 3rd sign on the blog site, these signs rock with guerrilla gimp flavor! They offer a method to shock people out of their disability ignorance. Sometimes one has to be radical to wake people up. This seems especially true of disability activism, at least I have learned from my work, because disability activist actions are often taken as tools meant to inspire.

Frankly my work is not intended to inspire, rather it is intended to be a vehicle of catalyzing a revolution of consciousness. In that capacity, I think these signs might spark cognition in an otherwise placid bunch of able-bodied people ready to utilize parking spaces that are not theirs!

Furthermore, and a bit off topic, I love the following access sign:

And think, if we're lucky, it might help start another important kind of revolution. Keep on rockin’ LCL!!

While we have been fighting for our civil rights for many years, this doesn't, in my opinion, help our cause.

It might even place a bigger gap (if that's possible) between the disabled and the non-disabled.

Cursing, fowl-mouthed signs or protestations or even signs depicting sexual inuendo, have no class whatsoever. If anything that style is is 'low life.'

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

Placing a sign on someones car without knowing whether they forgot to hang their sign ("it's illegal to leave the sign up - CA law) is offensive to us disabled.

Only an officer who can check the validity of the plate / placard and the user can make that judgement as well as citizen police who are trained.

How can we know if the car is of a disabled person or passenger?

I totally agree with Denise. It’s enough that many people treat us as third class but if we will use such language it is not helping us at all.

I agree that the foul language doesn't help our position. I also agree that the person parking in the space might have forgotten to hang up their tag on the rear-view mirror and might be unduly upset over such language. How about a card tucked under the wiper that reads something like "If you're handicapped, you deserve this parking space. If you're not, you deserve to be." I also think that wording might be too strong. That is how I've felt many times, however, when corresponding with unempathetic politicians. If MS were contagious, I would be glad to share it with them.
The idea of a card is not mine; I bought one many years ago at Spencer's Gifts that said "Do you always park that way or are you just an inconsiderate bastard?"
Sometimes I know that people think that I don't "deserve" to park in a handicapped space because although I walk slow - I still walk. Because of my MS though, I fatigue easily and experience pain with each step. It would not bother me to receive such a card however, as it might if one were more strongly worded.
The sticky bumper sticker is a good idea too but if it is left by mistake on a handicapped person's window, removing it might be a real problem for the person to remove. I have trouble sometimes just scraping ice off of my window. I'm sure that making things hard for those of us who already struggle daily in life is not what we want to do.
There must be a good way to raise awareness without inflicting injury and I don't think those signs do that.

I live in Humboldt county, CA. It is very common for people to park in blue spaces here just because they are lazy. Typically if I am around when this happens, I take a picture of them, their car and tell tem I am emailing the photos to the City Police. It really pisses people off being caught "on film"... So what are you going to do kick my disabled ass?

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