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Can Signage Change Perceptions About Disabilities?

With New York City's embrace, the dream of revamping the iconic blue-and-white handicapped symbol is becoming a reality. As NYC adopts "a more active representation of people with physical limitations," activists hope the change has a broader effect.
May 22, 2013, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The iconic handicapped logo that adorns parking lots, public bathrooms, and entry ramps across America "looks passive, even helpless," says Paul Basken. After years of trying to replace it, "a motley collection of determined activists at Gordon College, a small Christian institution in eastern Massachusetts," may have finally succeeded where others have failed. 

"Their breakthrough is that the City of New York, in a move that could spark similar updates worldwide, has now agreed to use a Gordon-inspired logo that shows the stick figure with active arms, leaning forward, a participant rather than a dependent," reports Basken. 

"Now that Gordon's logo has found a home in New York City, [Wayne Sailor, a co-founder of TASH, an advocacy group for the disabled] thinks it may spur a societal reappraisal of what really would be the most helpful solutions," notes Basken.

"You wind up talking about much more than a logo," Mr. Sailor said. "You wind up talking about the broader, bigger issues of who are these people, what do they need, and where are we in the present."

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Published on Monday, May 20, 2013 in The Chronicle of Higher Education
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