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Stationary to Mobile: The Accessibility Icon Project



Edgewood College is tackling a universally stationary symbol as the handicap accessibility signs are changing.

Dedra Hafner, director of the Cutting Edge Program, proposed the Accessible Icon Project to the Diversity Planning Task Force in 2014.

Tony Garcia, member of the Diversity Planning Task Force, said that the handicapped icon has been the standard. “It’s no longer current,” Garcia said, and “it no longer resonates with people.”

The change attempts to make the symbol dynamic by making it appear to be in motion as opposed to staying stationary. They started gaining attraction at Harvard University in 2011.

The students there decided they wanted to change the symbol’s outdated appearance which portrayed the handicapped as helpless. The new symbol depicts the accessible community as capable and active. The old symbol showed only the flaws of living with a disability as the person on the symbol was motionless. The updated symbol shows the person progressing and going forward.

Sara Hendren, professor of graphic design at Olin College of Engineering, created the logo in 2010 while attending Harvard. The logo was originally stickers that went over existing handicap symbols as a form of street art. It started to gain some traction at Harvard so they created a professional design and later implemented the logo in October of 2012 on campus.

Once Harvard started using the symbol, other universities and colleges, including the University of Massachusetts, University of Evansville, and Dallas Theological Seminary, implemented the symbol on their campuses.

Along with changing the symbol, Edgewood also wants to replace the word “handicap” with the word “accessible.” The word “handicap” comes with a negative connotation. “Accessible” doesn’t have that baggage. It simply means that people who need that space have access to it.

So far, the new symbol is on display in the parking stalls of the Regina, Stream, and De Rici lots. The only hesitation of replacing the other symbols on Edgewood’s campus is the cost.


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