Abstract for the LLUC Conference I will be presenting in

Moving Forward from a less-than-ideal icon:

Official Abstract for the Language and Linguistics Undergraduate Colloquium.

Officially called the International Symbol of Access (ISA), the “handicap” symbol is one of the most recognized symbols in the world. While its service in accommodating those with physical disabilities is without peer, this paper argues that changes must be made. In its current state, the ‘passive handicap’ stick-figure pictogram portrays a stagnant figure constrained to the restraints of the wheelchair, representing at best an archaic conception of people with disabilities. Just as our language and terminology has evolved in describing disabled populations, I argue that our symbols must progress as well. The Accessible Icon Project proposes an evolved international ‘active accessibility’ symbol to better represent the progressive conception of current disabled populations as active and engaged in society, moving forward in our new century. This progressive symbol stimulates others to re-imagine the active role that those with disabilities play in society.

The Language and Linguistics Undergraduate Colloquium will be taking place at Gordon College on April 6, 2013. Details of the conference and presenters can be found here.

The Accessible Icon Project

Officially called the International Symbol of Access (ISA), the “handicap” symbol is one of the most recognized symbols in the world. While its service in accommodating those with physical disabilities is without peer, I argue that changes must be made. In its current state, the ‘passive handicap’ stick-figure pictogram portrays a stagnant figure constrained to the restraints of the wheelchair, representing at best an archaic conception of people with disabilities. Just as our language and terminology has evolved in describing disabled populations, I argue that our symbols must progress as well. The Accessible Icon Project proposes an evolved international ‘active accessibility’ symbol to better represent the progressive conception of current disabled populations as active and engaged in society, moving forward in our new century. This progressive symbol stimulates others to re-imagine the active role that those with disabilities play in society.

Website: www.accessibleicon.com Twitter: @accessiconpro

Armless Guitarist Plays with the Goo Goo Dolls

George Dennehy, an adopted boy from Romania, plays guitar with no arms. Watch his inspiring video of playing Iris with The Goo Goo Dolls. He was invited to play when Goo Goo Dolls’ drummer, Mike Malinin, watched another video of his online. Watch the video below.

The Accessible Icon Project: My “Short” Thoughts

Since it is not always natural for people to analyze art for truth, most people do not become uncomfortable with the current International Symbol of Access until the negative connotations associated with the image is brought to light.

CurrentSymbol

When asking people to describe the old symbol, words such as  helplessness, immobile, static, lifeless,“cap-in-hand” dependence, constrained, and passive were terms used to describe the image and the message they felt the symbol was sending. The current symbol seems to reinforce and deepen these less-than-ideal misconceptions and possible prejudices we as a society are trying to escape from. Describing the new image with words such as: active, abled, engaged, ready-for-action, determined and motivated, the new image can be viewed as a symbol of hope and freedom since it provides a new representation and identity of people with disabilities.

Evolved Icon

 

While words are an important part of change and advocacy, I argue that imagery, or an image, is an even more powerful tool of influence in today’s technological and visual culture. As society evolves, the dependence on communicating with images will progress as technology advances and cultural norms change.