Wednesday, 5 June 2013

New York's 'new handicapped symbol' and me.


Someone in New York designed a new 'Handicapped' Symbol, and 'New York' is going to use it. It's been all over twitter and facebook for weeks.

Reactions have been mixed - some like it, others are indifferent, dislike it, some argue it will confuse the public by looking too able so they won't help. They might have a point - I'm not sure.

But I'm not really sure why it's such big news. Symbols will naturally change over time - and within different contexts different versions are surely completely applicable.

Personally - I like that the this 'new' symbol highlights that it doesn't have to be standard to work. Why not have different ones - recognisable but suited to their context.

I would like the New York symbol in my local gym, for example. A symbol portraying speedy athleticism would be perfect there.

But to be honest, (this is my blog and I'm entitled to be biased) I'm not taken with a sporty symbol for general use. Why? Not everyone is sporty. So having an overtly sporty image for general use feels a bit odd. I still prefer my design.

Image description: adapted accessibility symbol, with arms raised above it's head and a broad grin.
Admittedly, not everyone can wave their hands above their head, but everyone can have a positive attitude and a rich and fulfilled life. And I think my symbol says this better.

Yes I may need help with stuff, but I have no need of pity because Life is Good.

And if I was, for example, visiting the zoo, or the shopping mall, or travelling by train, being signposted to the accessible entrance by this would make my day.

(Perhaps I need to start creating metal signs with it on. If your company needs some, email me)


  1. I've been thinking, and I reckon that my symbol should not be universally adopted. Why? Because it wouldn't work on, for example, a funeral home. But then, neither would the New York one. So why not have the standard one where appropriate, and other versions where other versions are appropriate?

  2. For what it is worth, as an electric wheelchair user who for pain and arthritis reasons struggles to lift my arms above my head, I still very much relate to your symbol.
    It doesn't matter that it shows a manual wheelchair, nor that the person is waving their arms around. It is what it represents that matters: a happy life as a wheelchair user, and I relate to that completely.
    I don't feel included by the New York symbol. When I look at it I immediately think of fit and healthy manual wheelchair users. It isn't me and never can be. To be quite frank it slightly annoys me in that it seems to have missed the point entirely and saying that to be an "independent" person as a wheelchair user you still have to be physically well and active.

  3. Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Heavy Duty Wheelchair

    Keep Posting:)


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