'Handicapped' sign: Is it time to roll out a new, more empowering one?
Published Wednesday, September 21, 2016 8:32AM EDT
Two friends in Toronto have joined an international movement to update the iconic blue-and-white accessibility symbol, with a new, more active version of the figure sitting in the wheelchair.
The symbol is being promoted by a movement called the Accessible Icon Project, which encourages people to post stickers of the updated image throughout their neighbourhoods. Much like the original, the modified design depicts a white stick figure in a wheelchair. However, while the original shows a figure sitting passively, the proposed update depicts an individual leaning forward and pushing a wheelchair into motion.
Luke Anderson, who uses a wheelchair, and friend Jonathan Silver have been spreading the stickers in Toronto, posting them wherever they see the standard version on display.
"To me, it's not a very empowering image," Anderson said of the original symbol, in an interview with CTV Toronto.
"It kind of objectifies people with disabilities," added Silver. "It makes them look like immovable objects.”
The original wheelchair sign, called the International Symbol of Access, was introduced in 1968, and has become the universally-recognized sign for accessibility.
However, supporters of the Accessible Icon Project say it's time for a change to make the symbol more active.
The Accessible Icon Project started as a street art campaign in Boston in 2010, but has since grown into a movement to spread the active wheelchair icon wherever possible. The symbol is in the public domain, and supporters are encouraged to spread it on social media under the hashtag #Access4All. It's also free to download and print out at home.
Anderson calls it an "elegant and simple way" to "remove barriers" for individuals with disabilities.