Changing Signs-Changing Minds- Modifying the International Symbol of Access
By: Parrish L. Stahl
The early spring sun was beaming off the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing on April 24th 2019 when a group of advocates from the 15 Center's for Independent Living in the state of Michigan descended on the Michigan House and Senate for their annual Legislative Day. Jackson's own disAbility Connections had a contingent on hand as well.
This year the focus was on Changing Signs - Changing Minds. Representative LaFave introduced legislation with several co-sponsors to replace the existing access symbol that we've all become accustomed to since 1968 before the modern Disability Rights Movement. Lesia Pikaart, Executive Director of disAbility Connections states, ‘the old logo is a more static symbol and badly needs an update to reflect modern active lifestyles of people with disabilities. This will in a small way help change the public perception of people with disabilities being helpless and reflect an image of people living an active lifestyle and being more productive members of our communities”.
The groups took the opportunity to visit with various legislators to talk about the new signs and other disability related issues. The group from the Jackson area talked with Senator Mike Shirkey, Representative Julie Alexander, Representative Eric Leutheuser, Representative Bronna Khale and brought informational materials to several more. Those legislators and their staff were also invited to lunch in the Capital. Ms. Wheelchair Michigan Dr. Kimberly Yvonne Kennedy was also on hand looking beautiful wearing her crown and sash.
The bill would not require replacing all the current signs throughout Michigan. Instead, it will just upgrade them as they need to be replaced over time. There will be no additional cost to the taxpayers for this project. There's also an effort Nationwide to eliminate the term “handicapped” from signs and other communications at state and local levels. The root of the word “handicapped” is an old term that comes from returning veterans begging because they didn't have benefits “with their cap in hand” on street corner. We hear a lot of negative things about politicians, but remember most of them, like everyone deep down is eager to do the right thing.