universal symbol of accessibility

Should the Lakeshore Embrace Active Wheelchair Logo?


 We’ve been hearing the term “lean in” a lot since Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” climbed the bestsellers list.

Sandberg’s women’s manifesto parallels an effort in the disability community to upgrade the ubiquitous blue and white wheelchair accessibility symbol.

The new icon – which New York City is test-driving in summer 2013 – shows the stick person in the wheelchair “leaning in” to forward movement.

The problem with the old “handicap” symbol is that it looks static and bears little resemblance to many wheelchair users, say disability activists at Gordon College in eastern Massachusetts.

To say the redesigned icon looks “active” is an understatement. The stick figure – head forward and arms raised backward – appears to be going full speed ahead to assume his or her place at the proverbial table!

The Gordon College activists introduced their updated logo as stickers stealthily placed over traditional accessibility signs in nearby Boston.

Following the mostly positive response to media reports in Boston, New York City’s Office For People With Disabilities announced it would begin rolling out the new icons.

"It's such a forward-moving thing," said Victor Calise, commissioner of the New York mayor's Office for People With Disabilities.

What happens in The Big Apple usually spreads to the Midwest.

Learn more about the Disability Icon Project at http://www.accessibleicon.org.

The lean-in disability logo meshes with Sandberg’s admonition to women to focus on moving forward, not on the barriers that could impede progress.

In fact, wasn’t the Abilities Movement the original author of that chapter?

Replacing accessibility signs costs money. There’s a price tag associated with updating signs with stickers, too.

Because symbols shape how the public thinks about things, do you think it’s important to update the signs?

How would you feel if you began noticing the “passive” accessibility signs being replaced with the “active” logo along our Lakeshore area?