Disability Advocates Worry Changing Gas Station Call Buttons Will Limit Access

Apr 3, 2014

JR Harding with Govenor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott
Credit JRHarding.com

JR Harding is a quadriplegic who regularly gets gas from a station in Tallahassee where they know him. For years, he’s been using the stations call button to get help when filling up. But that button could soon go away, and Harding says he is concerned.

“It preempts Leon County’s rule and Brevard County’s rule and prevents any other county from implementing a better accommodation at the gas pump,” he says about a proposal in the state legislature that would replace gas station call buttons in favor of a phone number customers can dial if they need assistance.

Harding worries people with limited mobility won’t be able to make the call. But gas station general manager Dixit Patel says the proposal won’t impact how his station assists people with disabilities.

“No matter what you know if they have the buttons, or if they don’t we will try our best to help the handicapped people,” says Patel, who manages the station Harding uses.  

There are two bills moving in the Florida legislature involving handicap access. One gives the option to have handicapped license stickers or keep the current placards, while the other would replace gas station call buttons with a number to dial for assistance.  

The Arc of Florida, which advocates for the disabled, has not taken an official stance on any of the bills, but the organization says the bills are somewhat worrisome.

“Any time an accommodation is taken away that concerns us,” says ARC spokesman Jay Schleuning.

The handicapped sticker bill has moved on to its next hearing after receiving unanimous approval from the Senate Transportation committee. The call button bill will be heard next by the House Regulatory Affairs committee.