#Human Rights
United States Access Board

We have redesigned the look of the International Accessible Symbols so they include a gender and no longer portray people in wheelchairs as sexless and inferior.

Throughout the world we have standard signs that indicate where bathroom facilities are located. Typically, the shape of a female or male figure mark the entrance of bathroom doors. When there is an accessible bathroom, for those of us who are handicapable, the door and stall are marked with a wheelchair symbol. Although these symbols seem to carry no more importance than letting people know where the facilities are, they actively relay a message to their huge audience. We, as in the human race, absorb so much information that shape our perceptions on a daily basis thanks to the millions of signs and images we view repeatedly.

Although you’ve seen these signs multiple times, take a closer look. Every wheelchair symbol is substantially out of proportion to that of the adult male and female shapes. The head of the wheelchair symbol only reaches as high as the hand of both figures. This is demeaning and unrealistic. In the “Family Restroom Sign” the child depicted is as small as the person in a wheelchair. This definitely plants a seed of inequality and perpetuates stigmas attached to our differently-abled population, and specifically, women who are differently-abled.

It’s somewhat understandable that whoever made this design was trying to say that, wheelchair or not, we are just men and women. On the contrary, when you see the icon representing wheelchair accessibility, it looks like an inferior and sexless body melded into a wheelchair. This symbol reinforces and perpetuates social stigmas placed on men and women in wheelchairs everyday.

I am a woman who rolls on four wheels. I am not a woman who walks on two legs, the female figurine is misrepresentative. Until people see me as a “woman” in a wheelchair, and not only as a sexless wheelchair person, I will forever be disregarded and considered inferior by some. So many stigmas are placed on all walks of life that it can be defeating, at times, to rise above the banter.

Changing our current International Symbol for Accessibility is the most effortless way to plant a seed and begin remedying the blatant disregard some people have toward those who are differently-abled. We’ve designed a gender specific accessibility symbol that depicts a female, or male, icon seated in a wheelchair next to a standing female, or male, icon.

The simple visual message, “Accessible to a woman/man, in a wheelchair”, will painlessly inject some human qualities into our current sexless and inferior accessibility symbol. We can make life a little more effortless for humankind with a few small adjustments in our environment.

Be it a physical, racial or cultural difference, we are all human, we are all women, we are all men. We all share a universal set of emotions. We all smile, laugh, cry, yell, sleep, eat and exist. Some of us walk, and some of us roll.

The human mind is like a sponge, it constantly sucks up and stores information. We are directly influenced by these small bits of information, whether we like it or not. Let’s take this fact as an opportunity to make a difference. Every time someone’s eye glances by our gender specific signage, it plants a seed of equality, empowerment and positivity.

We are asking for your support as we rally to change the current ADA Standard Accessibility Symbol. Our gender specific symbols can’t be used legally in bathrooms until the United States Access Board and ADA approve our design as a symbol that meets code requirements for establishments to legally be considered “Accessible”.

Your signature will bring our cause one step closer to providing a simple way to empower and integrate our differently-abled men and women.

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The Support Changing the International Symbol for Accessibility marking Bathrooms petition to United States Access Board was written by Shannon Moore and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.