Everyone knows the handicap sign. You see it everywhere you go, especially in parking lots. The old handicap sign was designed in 1968 by Danish student Susanne Koefoed in a competition. Since the first design, not much has changed, and you see this sign today at handicap parking spots.
Today, The Accessible Icon Project is working to change the iconic handicap symbol. The group provides supplies and services to transform the original International Symbol of Access into an active, engaged image. The new symbol, is called the accessibility logo. And more and more governments and businesses are now accepting the new logo.
So, what makes the accessibility logo the new International Symbol of Access? Here is the elements of the new graphic from the Accessible Icon Project.
The new logo and design is now in the public domain. At first, people in the Boston area were participating in a guerrilla art project by placing stickers containing the new handicap symbol over existing signs. The group thinks visual representation matters. People with disabilities have a long history of being spoken for, of being rendered passive in decisions about their lives. The old icon, while a milestone in ADA history, displays that passivity: its arms and legs are drawn like mechanical parts, its posture is unnaturally erect, and its entire look is one that make the chair, not the person, important and visible.
As people with disabilities of all kinds—not just chair users—create greater rights and opportunities for social, political, and cultural participation, they think cities should evolve their images of accessibility too. Describing the new image with words such as: active, abled, engaged, ready-for-action, determined, and motivated helps provoke discussion on how we view disabilities and people with disabilities in our culture. The symbol does not “represent” people with disabilities, but symbolizes the idea that all people with disabilities can be active and engaged in their lived environment. Their active accessibility symbol helps re-imagine how society and individuals view people with disabilities.
As someone who has a disability, I think the new symbol rocks! The new symbol means people with disabilities are on the go, on the move, and ready to conquer life. Folks with disabilities just don’t sit around and not do anything, they get out and do things. And the new symbol updates the stereotype that people with disabilities are always on the sidelines. So, if you want to learn more about the new handicap symbol, or learn more about the group, go to: http://www.accessibleicon.org/