Those with disabilities in Pinellas County may soon be able to get a helping hand at Pinellas County gas stations.
Last week, the Pinellas County Commission passed an ordinance — similar to Federal law — that states a gas station with two or more employees are required to offer to help those with disabilities fuel up their vehicle at no charge.
According to a Pinellas County news release, the newly passed law also requires gas stations to post signs of a working telephone number for the station that those with disabilities can call for assistance.
The news release said advocates for people with disabilities said the telephone is a less embarrassing way to ask for help.
Advocates for those with disabilities noted that obtaining refueling assistance through honking or signaling can create a stigmatizing effect by placing unwanted attention on one’s need for assistance. They stated that allowing those with cellular phones the option of calling the station affords persons with disabilities an additional, less obvious option.
The ordinance dictates that people who believe they were improperly denied refueling assistance may contact the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights to file a complaint. The signs placed on the gas pump specify this right.
County commissioners worked diligently to strike the right balance between affording people with disabilities greater access, while ensuring businesses are not unnecessarily or unduly burdened.
The main provisions of the ordinance are scheduled to take effect 90 days after its enactment – Monday, Nov. 19.