How to Create a More Accessible Parking Lot


How to Create a More Accessible Parking Lot

January 2024


Air travel can present a lot of challenges for disabled people and these problems can start the moment they arrive at the parking lot. As anyone who’s used an airport parking lot will know, these spaces can be crowded and difficult to navigate. This can be irritating enough for any traveler, but for travelers with disabilities, these issues are a serious burden that dampens their mood for the journey ahead.


As such, both airports and off-site parking businesses must keep the needs of disabled guests in mind when designing their lots. Whether that involves providing more accessible parking spaces or installing more signage, the objective is the same – to create an environment where disabled travelers feel valued and empowered. 


Challenges faced by disabled travelers


Accommodating persons with disabilities is more than just a nice thing to do. It’s the law. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), every public building must have at least one accessible parking space for every 25 total spaces. The ADA also states that accessible parking areas must be located as close as possible to the building’s entrance, with appropriate sidewalks, signage, and ramps to facilitate easy transit to and from accessible parking areas. 


Yet even with these requirements in place, air travel can still be an intimidating experience for disabled travelers. For example, even when an airport does meet the minimum legal number of accessible parking spaces, disabled travelers may still find that there aren’t enough accessible parking spaces to meet demand and may need to find offsite parking. Another issue can be the absence of comprehensible signage for individuals with color blindness or other visual impairments.


But perhaps the worst issue faced by disabled travelers is the number of barriers between parking lot entrances and accessible parking areas. These barriers, whether they are physical obstructions or unclear pathways, not only deter travel but also signal a lack of caring on the part of the facility. This can leave many disabled travelers feeling left out and is in direct opposition to modern ideas of equity and inclusion. 


Enabling access for disabled travelers


For both airports and off-site parking businesses, it is imperative to ensure that disabled drivers can enjoy the same level of accessibility and convenience as non-disabled drivers. To that end, here are some strategies that can allow you to achieve this:


First, carry out an assessment to determine if your parking facility meets the minimum ADA requirements for the ratio of accessible parking spaces to total spaces. Also, while regulations may set a baseline, true inclusivity requires a proactive approach that goes beyond mere compliance. As such, airports and offsite parking businesses should aim to exceed expectations by providing more than the required number of accessible parking spaces.


When you’re seeking to improve signage and the navigability of your facility, remember the importance of accommodating all types of physical and sensory disabilities. This means providing inclusive signage that utilizes high-contrast colors, tactile elements, and clear auditory cues. For example, if your facility uses color coding to designate different lot areas, ensure that your signs also include symbols so colorblind travelers can identify each lot. It’s a small but meaningful change that can make a world of difference to many people.


Lastly, investigate ways that you can improve the infrastructure of your parking facility to better accommodate the needs of disabled guests. This might mean removing some barriers or even aiming for a barrier-free parking facility. There should also be at least one assistance point where disabled guests can request help with reaching a parking space, setting up a wheelchair, or guiding them to the terminal. 


Strive for continuous improvement


The challenges faced by disabled travelers within parking facilities underscore the urgent need for comprehensive and continuous improvement. With that in mind, you should conduct regular surveys to ascertain the satisfaction levels of disabled travelers. Only by soliciting feedback directly from these travelers can you gain insights into the efficacy of your efforts. This feedback loop also enables swift course correction, ensuring that your parking facility can address any shortcomings both promptly and effectively.


Additionally, it may be worth collaborating with a disability advocacy group to better understand the needs of disabled drivers. These advocacy groups can offer a wealth of expertise that spans a range of disabilities and accessibility requirements. Their insights can also shed light on nuances that might escape the scope of conventional surveys. By involving these groups in the conversation, parking facilities can demonstrate a genuine commitment to meeting the needs of disabled travelers. 


Final thoughts


Airport parking can be a frustrating experience, even at the best of times. But for travelers with disabilities, the frustrations can be enough to discourage them from even taking a trip. This is why it is imperative that all parking facilities should take the necessary steps to ensure their lots are disabled-friendly.


By doing so, they can make a strong statement that accessibility isn’t an afterthought, but an intrinsic part of how the business operates.


Vitaly Vinogradov has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years, honing his business strategy skills. His wealth of knowledge is essential to the success of Cheap Airport Parking. Prior to founding, Vitaly worked as VP of Financial Strategy at HSBC. He also received his BS from Moscow State Technical University and an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. When he’s not busy working, Vitaly enjoys traveling, reading, skiing, and spending time with his family and friends. He can be reached at

Article contributed by:
Vitaly Vinogradov,
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