As many of you know, individuals with disabilities hold a very dear place in my heart. They are the driving force behind Aunt Laurie’s, whose mission is to inspire others to acknowledge the human value in everyone.
It’s no surprise, then, that I was heartened by a recent article in Quartz that touches upon the importance of continuing to improve the conversation and perception around individuals with disabilities.
Entitled “There’s a Movement Underway to Update The Universal Symbol for Disability Access”, it draws attention to an updated version of the internationally recognized symbol of disability access that incorporates a “dynamic character leaning forward with a sense of movement.”
Originating from a guerrilla street-art project in 2010, the design has already been adopted by several U.S. cities and establishments, and is now being considered in a bill proposed by Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy for all new handicap parking sings, license plates, stickers and tags starting in January 2017.
Some might consider it a small change – from a static figure to an active one – but, to me, it’s one that is incredibly significant, as it signals an important transformation in how our society views and understands those with disabilities.
Disabled people are often defined solely by their “differences” or limitations, whether it be physical, mental or emotional. But, when it really comes down to it, they’re human beings just like the rest of us, and their differences shouldn’t preclude them from receiving the respect we all deserve. After all, don’t each and every one of us have unique quirks and “differences” anyway?
Perhaps this is why I was so encouraged to read about the updated symbol for disability access. It shows that people with disabilities can be “active and engaged” just like the rest of us – because they are. It conveys their ability to participate in and contribute to society – something I’ve seen them do by making our gift baskets and the products that go in them.
And it urges us to recognize their human value.
While progress has certainly been made in increasingly disability awareness, preventing discrimination and advocating for inclusion, we still have a long way to go in breaking the disability barriers. But at least we are on the move – in a forward direction.