Looking for a fun DIY summer advocacy project?

The Accessible Icon Project, a movement trying to change the “handicapped” sign to one of “active accessibility” released the DIY instructions of how to make the stencil of the symbol.  You and your children can do this  fun DIY project that promotes advocacy and creativity! Try it out and be sure to tell Teachertalk4all how it goes!

Accessible Icon Project, IAP DIY

Here is the Accessible Icon DIY project!

Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Basics

Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are general terms used to describe a spectrum of developmental disorders characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. Although no two people with autism function exactly alike, common characteristics such as: difficulties in motor coordination, sensitivity to touch, smell, and loud sounds, an apparent indifference to social situations and people, and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances frequently occur in people identified with ASD (CSD, 2012). Repetitive movements such as rocking, twirling, flapping or self-abusive behavior such as biting, head banging, and screaming are common traits indentified as well. Frequently, children with characteristics of ASD have co-occurring conditions such as OCD, epilepsy, attention deficit disorder or learning disabilities that influence the unique functioning of the child.

The prevalence of autism is increasing in America and around the world. According to AutismSpeaks, ASD currently affects over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify around 1 in 88 American children as on the autism spectrum, which is a ten-fold increase in prevalence in the past 40 years (Autism Speaks, 2013). Furthermore, studies have found that boys are four to five times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls. Currently, 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States (Autism Speaks, 2013).  Although there is no established explanation for the cause or increasing statistics, scientists and doctors are starting to develop theories of how genetics and environmental factors influence autism to appear.

The Accessible Icon Project YouTube Video

Being a member of The Accessible Icon Project, I was asked to write a short script to describe the accessibility symbol and the basic philosophy behind the new symbol. Nathaniel Perkins and Stevie Schweighardt directed and edited this short video for a class project around my script. For those who are new to my blog, The Accessible Icon Project is trying to change the “handicapped” symbol into one of active accessibility. So far, parts of New York City, Massachusetts, North Carolina, India, and the UK have switched over to the new symbol. Enjoy! 



High hopes for people with autism in the workplace

“We need to see neurological diversity in much the same way as we’ve seen workplace diversity efforts in the past on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation,” he said. “We’re now seeing a growing level of interest in this.” -Ari Ne’eman

Autism and Employment:

Traditionally, people with any type of “disability” has had trouble finding employment. A recent news article on Fox, however, shows times are changing.

German computer software giant SAP and U.S. home financing firm Freddie Mac are advertising jobs specifically for people on the spectrum. Believing that “innovation comes from the edges”, these companies actually initiated a recruitment movement to find people with autism to test their new software.

Luisa Delgado, one of SAP’s human resources board member, states that “only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st Century.”

How do you feel about the new movement? Do you think other companies will model the recruitment initiative of these two companies?

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/04/thinking-differently-autism-patients-in-demand-by-employers/#ixzz2VSYKfuKV

The Accessible Icon Updates

Below I attached a great overview article of The Accessible Icon Project, the project trying to change the old “handicapped” symbol into an active and engaged icon. I have been working with the project since February 2012 and have been excited to see how the project is growing and gaining lots of media attention. Just let week, the project was featured on Good Morning America and GloboNews, the main cable news station in Brazil. The Chronicles of Higher Education also wrote an article on the project a week before. Just this week, FastCoDesign wrote a piece that is one of the best articles I have seen.


If you have any questions about the project, I would be happy to answer!

Favorite Blog Posts for the Week

As I have been searching the internet reading about one of my favorite topic—education—I have come across some fantastic blog posts. I have listed my top 5 favorites of the week below: (Note: These blogs below contain different writing styles, education levels, and topics).

1. 10 Ideas to Move Innovation Forward http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/3890

2. Who am I? Words I’d use to describe myself with before my diagnosis. (written from a 12 year old who blogs almost daily) http://autisticandproud.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/who-am-i-words-id-use-to-describe-myself-with-before-my-diagnosis/

3. The Incredible Power of a Single Pair of Glasses http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mick-ebeling/eyewriter-ted-talk_b_3158106.html?ir=TED+Weekends&ref=topbar

4. How Public Health can Deliver Breakthroughs for the Autism Community: http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2013/06/04/how-public-health-can-deliver-breakthroughs-autism-community

5. Autistic and Proud…in School Magazine (our 12 year old boy with autism makes the list a second time!!) http://autisticandproud.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/autistic-and-proud-in-school-magazine/

If you have come across any great blog post, please comment and let me know below!


Moving Forward from a Less-than-Ideal icon:

What comes to your mind when you see a “handicapped sign”? What beliefs or images do you attach to the word “disabled”?

Until recently, I have never given much attention to the International Symbol of Access. Although I pass this symbol every day, I have never critically analyzed the potential message the ‘passive handicapped’ stick-figure pictogram portrays.  Why I have not really looked at this image before- I don’t know, but regardless of my reasoning, I am now compelled to think about this image wherever I go. Believing that image is a powerful tool of communication, I want to analyze the message the current International Symbol of Access is sending to people with disabilities and to society. The stagnant figure constrained to the restraints of the wheelchair seems to represent, at best, an archaic conception of people with disabilities.

I recently presented a paper about the International Symbol of Access at a conference where I asked people from the University of Tennessee to shout out words they would use to describe the current “Handicapped Symbol”. When the picture flashed on the screen, 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. These words, in my mind, were everything less than an ideal representation of how I wanted society to think about people with disabilities. The current symbol seemed to reinforce and deepen these less-than-ideal misconceptions and possible prejudices we as a society were trying to escape from.

I am saddened when we allow our perceptions of “disability” to cloud the true identity of one with a disability. We must be careful to not slip into this mode of thinking, for I believe it is usually an unconscious stream of thought, not a deliberate separation, which leads to an “us” verse “them” mentality. While most people may not consciously believe in the prejudice and discrimination that exists toward the disabled populations, much work still needs to be done to improve the overarching perception of the concepts of “disabled” and “disability” held by society. The current stigma that people with physical disabilities are sedate and somewhat helpless could start to be lifted by a new symbol representing more ideal traits of the disabled population. The Accessible Icon Project, promoting the “active accessibility” icon, chooses to do just that.

The Accessible Icon Project, a project trying to change the International Symbol of Access to the “active accessibility” symbol, is part of a general attempt to bring about a public re-conception of what it means to be “disabled”.

 With the hands and the body posture moving forward, the person sitting in the wheelchair seems determined, confident, and not constrained in his/her ability to move forward. 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 the disabled population. The “active accessibility” symbol should help reshape how society thinks about people with disabilities, as well as give people with disabilities a new perception of who they are as active and engaged members in society. In return, The Accessible Icon Project trusts this provides hope for people with disabilities to move forward and be a contributing force in our society. With the ability for image to influence perception, it is necessary to have an image that accurately portrays people with disabilities as active and engaged.

To learn more about the Accessible Icon Project please follow us @accessiconpro, become a fan on facebook at www.facebook.com/accessibleicon, and visit our website at www.accessibleicon.org.

“To us, the symbol might just be a symbol, but to those with physical disabilities, the evolved icon can be seen as a symbol of hope and a new identity”.