Many of you know the “wheelchair symbol” as the international symbol for access seen in places such as parking lots, bathroom doors, airports and hospitals.
Frequently, the symbol denotes the removal of environmental barriers such as steps, narrow pathways or narrow toilet stalls. It became widely used after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
Now, 26 years later it’s time for an updated icon!
In 2010, artist and design researcher Sara Hendren and philosophy professor Brian Glenney wanted to draw attention to the symbol as a way to address issues around inclusivity. They designed a new accessibility logo that is a more active, engaging dynamic image compared to the original static logo.
The new logo has a forward head to indicate the person as the “driver” or decision maker about his or her mobility. The arm angle also points backward to suggest the dynamic mobility of a chair user, regardless of whether or not he or she uses her arms.
The Accessible Icon Project is very grassroots right now, and it currently alters existing signs, replacing the old symbol with its design. We believe the new accessibility logo can help to change attitudes in a positive way for people with disabilities.
This project is international with it being promoted from India to New York and Connecticut and other cities around the U.S. such as Phoenix and El Paso, Texas, along with the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.
But the Federal Highway Administration rejected requests to allow “alternative dynamic designs” for traffic signs, so the logo is currently being painted on the concrete in the middle of the accessible space.
Now the new logo has come to Durham. The new logo was recently presented by disability advocates to the Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. The logo was unanimously voted in to be painted on the city’s accessible parking spaces throughout Durham.
The Disability Advocate Team and volunteers have been busily measuring, stenciling and spray painting. Any private organization can also contact the New Accessible Icon team if your organization would like the logo painted on your accessible parking spots.
When you visit Durham, notice to see new symbol, the large white logo on top of a bright blue square. Spread the word. We hope to complete Durham and begin getting the new logo adopted in other counties of North Carolina! Go team!
Pam Dickens has a master’s degree in public health and has worked in the field of disability and health for many years. Write to Pam Dickens and all our writers in c/o firstname.lastname@example.org