Just Keep Dancing

I always love finding people who are prime examples of an accessible icon. Chelsie Hill always wanted to dance professionally and did everything she could to achieve her dream. During her senior year, she became paralyzed from the waist down from a drunk driver in a car accident. Doctors originally said she would not be able to walk, but that did not stop her from wanting to dance. Nine months later, she tried out for a wheelchair dance team and now runs her own team. Not only does she teach wheelchair dance classes, she posts online tutorials.

Watch Chelsie’s story below.

The Power Wheelchair

The Argonault Power Wheelchair is an amazing idea that can change the lives of those with disabilities. As technology constantly evolves the way we live and function, this power wheelchair can help make the lives of those with limited mobility more accessible. In particular, I love how this design showcases the independence of those using a wheelchair. For example, when the individual uses the wheelchair after laying down in his bed and then entering into his car. In my opinion, this is one of the coolest ideas I have come across in a while. I truly hope this becomes a reality one day.

Honoring an advocate: Finn Bullers

Saddened by the news of our advocate and team member Finn Bullers. After many conversations through email and phone, I can honestly say Finn fought for the rights of those with disabilities and promoted the Accessible Icon project throughout the nation, and in particular, the midwest. I admire his tenacity, passion, and spirit. Finn you will be missed.

accessible icon project, disability advocate, reporter, kansas, merriam reporter





Wheelchair Snow Plow

This week, a lot of the states were hit with major snow storms ranging from 25 to 30 inches. A lot of times, with massive snowfall, the streets and sidewalks become unaccessible to wheelchair users and others who rely on smooth walkways.

This video shows one man who decided to modify his wheelchair to meet his needs due to the snowy weather. This idea is definitely on my “top 10” list. I am looking for others to replicate! Justin Anderson is an accessible icon.

Accessible Icon Project: Projects from around the world

One of the best parts of being on the Accessible Icon team is to regularly hear how people use the icon to create other advocacy projects and ideas. I recently was sent this animation video made by Shaheen Sheriff for a class project promoting the International Symbol of Access and the Accessible Icon Project.

I personally love how this animation highlights the movement of the icon and the different ways people with disabilities can be active and engaged in their lived environments.

Support Accessibility in Italy

Accessibility has become an increasing problem in historic places such as Italy, Israel, and parts of Africa. Cobblestones, cracked side walks, and lack of ramps make it difficult for people with physical disabilities to travel. A group of operators in Venice decided to do something to help fix this problem.

Who: Gondolas4all

Where: Venice, Italy

Problem: Currently people in wheelchairs are not able to access gondola rides unless they are carried onto gondolas, which can be dangerous

Solution: To build the first ever automated wheelchair lift on a floating jetty

Picture taken from crowd sourcing site:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gondolas4all-gondola-wheelchair-access

Picture taken from crowd sourcing site: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gondolas4all-gondola-wheelchair-access

Website of the Month Choice: EveryBody-an artifact history of Disabilities in America

A professor from Gordon College recommended this new website: http://everybody.si.edu. This website aims to collect the history of various people with disabilities who have been present throughout American History. Since people with disabilities have been stigmatized in years past, many stories have not made it into history textbooks because of the person’s physical or mental condition. This site’s goal is to save those stories and make them available for the general public. The website is even available in Spanish. Be sure to take a look at this month’s Website of the Month Award!


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”.

NV200 Mobility NY Taxi and The Accessible Icon Project

As most of you know who follow my blog, I am part of the team promoting the Accessible Icon Project. Recently, we adapted our “Accessibility Icon” for Nissan’s innovative NV200 taxi! The “Taxi of Tomorrow” program was recently unveiled at the New York International Auto Show highlighting the wheelchair accessible NV200 Mobility NY Taxi.

 According to Nissan’s website, the NV200 Mobility NY Taxi features a rear-entry ramp and an industry-first integrated restraint system that provides safe and quick securement of wheelchairs.

Joe Castelli, vice president of Commerical Vehicles and Fleet, says, “With more than 600,000 people hailing New York taxis every day, it is important that the NV200 taxi be able to serve everyone, including those with disabilities.”

While there is some controversy over the “Taxi of Tomorrow” program, I am just happy to see our symbol on the hood of the car. Hopefully this symbol becomes more common; I would love to see more companies take the initiative to represent people with disabilities as such.