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Students asked to revamp wheelchair symbol

The blue square wheelchair symbol is universally recognized but badly needs a revamp to reflect the modern world, says Ontario Lieutenat Governor David Onley.

The familiar blue square wheelchair symbol is badly needs a revamp to reflect the modern world, says Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley.

“The present symbol of a stick figure in a wheelchair represents less than three per cent of the total population of people with disabilities,” said Onley, himself a wheelchair user. “We want something that's more inclusive, more comprehensive in who it embraces.”

To come up with something to replace the rigid, emotionless figure, Onley is teaming up with Toronto’s OCAD University with an international contest calling on post-secondary students to create a new design for the decades-old icon.

The hope is that design savvy students can create something that speaks to people with a range of disability challenges, not just scooter and wheelchair users.

 “If it ends up making Ontario a more inclusive place for a range of disabilities ... it will have achieved is objective,” said Onley.

Entrants will be expected to maintain a similar size and shape for the new symbol but the rest will be up to them.

An expert jury, which will include CBC Dragon Arlene Dickinson, will select three finalists whose designs will be unveiled on Nov. 1. The final designs will be presented to the International Standards Organization for consideration.

With files from CBC's Charlsie Agro

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