Connecticut is composed of citizens with disabilities and advocates who
oppose the legalization of assisted suicide (also called
"aid-in-dying"), which we view as endangering the lives of people with
disabilities and elders.
Problems with this:
Second Thoughts Connecticut is opposing a proposal to do away with the International Symbol of Access in favor of The Accessible Icon Project’s new symbol (on the right above).
Proponents may think of the proposed symbol as merely a sleek modern upgrade. But please take the time to look more closely.
The new symbol depicts a physically active person, perhaps pushing toward the finish line in a race.
“The new symbol conveys a profound prejudice against those of us with severe disabilities who need things like power wheelchairs, attendant care, breathing support, and feeding tubes,” explains Stephen Mendelsohn of Second Thoughts Connecticut. “The message being sent is that while it is cool to be ‘able disabled,’ having a severe disability causes one to be a ‘burden.’”
That prejudice is expressed by Greg Bott, a supporter of the new symbol. He says, “The person in the ISA [International Symbol of Access] is static. Motionless. Immobile. He is blocky and rigid, and looks as though he is just leaving a hospital or, worse, an institution sitting in one of those very recognizable wheelchairs.”
Disability rights advocate Cathy Ludlum responds, “I AM blocky and rigid! I drive one of those very recognizable wheelchairs with the three fingers that still work for me, but anyone who knows me will tell you that I am far from immobile.” She adds, “The old symbol leaves everything up to the imagination. The new symbol seems to say that independence has everything to do with the body, which it doesn’t. Independence is who you are inside.”
There are other problems with the new symbol.
*While it may be more interesting visually, it will not be as recognizable, especially when painted on the ground or seen at an angle. People with certain types of disabilities need consistency. In addition, the universal recognition of the International Symbol of Access has taken decades to establish. It should not be thrown away without serious thought.
*The International Symbol of Access is enshrined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Technically, businesses and municipalities that use the new symbol are out of compliance with the ADA. If adopted in Connecticut, which symbol will businesses use, or will they have to use both?
While there is controversy over which icon to use, there is no dispute that the word “HANDICAPPED” should be replaced with “RESERVED” in new signs that designate parking for people with disabilities. 44 other states already use “RESERVED.”
Let’s put our energies toward making this important change.
And while we’re at it, the biggest unrecognized problem with accessible parking is that people park on the wheelchair access aisle between the spaces.
These striped areas are intended to give people enough room to deploy a ramp or lift. Unfortunately, motorists do not understand this, and frequently park in these aisles because they think they are not violating the accessible space. By blocking the aisles, however, they make it impossible for people in wheelchairs to get back into their vehicles.
Other states have developed signs to deal with this problem. We especially like the forceful sign from South Dakota ["WHEELCHAIR ACCESS AISLE, ABSOLUTELY NO PARKING" http://www.safetysign.com/.../south-dakota-handicap...
See this October, 2015 editorial from The Bulletin of Norwich, CT:
"Our View: Focus effort not on symbol, but 'handicapped' label"
Link: Some Oregon and Washington State Assisted Suicide Abuses and Complications