Accessibility icon needs to be updated, Sudbury advocate says

There is a movement growing across Canada and the United States to change the icon that indicates wheelchair accessibility.
This is the new updated icon Lionel Courtemanche in Sudbury wants to see the city's Accessibility Panel adopt in the future. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

There is a movement growing across Canada and the United States to change the icon that indicates wheelchair accessibility.

An advocate in Sudbury plans to bring the topic up with the city's Accessibility Panel in November.

Vice-chair Lionel Courtemanche recently read about the Accessibility Icon Project, gaining momentum in the U.S.

He says it would involve replacing the current universal wheelchair accessible symbol with one that's new and modern.

Courtemanche says being in a wheelchair doesn't limit his activity, yet the current symbol shows a person waiting to be pushed.

The universal icon that lets everyone know a building is wheelchair accessible or that a parking spot is designated for those with disabilities. (CBC)

"I think there isn't anything wrong with [the universal symbol] and all that. It's just this is new and its up-to-date. What it should look like," says Courtemanche.

He adds that some people who identify as disabled use wheelchairs while others do not.

The Canadian spokesperson for the Accessible Icon Project, Jonathan Silver, says the updated icon shows an individual leaning forward in a wheelchair, with arms raised.

Jonathan Silver is the Canadian spokesperson for the Accessible Icon Project. He started a campaign called Access4All to distribute the new updated icon as weatherproof decals. (Twitter @silverjonsilver)

"The new symbol is more positive. It indicates activity instead of passivity. It indicates ability instead of inability, and it has this forward motion to it, which symbolizes progressiveness," says Silver.

Silver says private businesses and organizations can make the change if they want. They simply request the stickers or stencils to make the change.

The updated symbol has been spotted already in Sudbury. The three City of Lakes Family Health team sites all have new stickers on their doors and the new icon stenciled in the parking lots.

It's no co-incidence that the health team sites have the stickers. The health care group is overseen by executive director and former Greater Sudbury mayor David Courtemanche — Lionel Courtemanche's son. 

Currently the only Canadian community to fully adopt the new icon is Nanaimo, B.C.


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