Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Access. Sympathy. Equality. These are some of the words that come into mind when we run into the wheelchair icon that we see everywhere, from the doors of restrooms to the pavement of certain parking lot spaces. Otherwise known as the international symbol of access, the stylized image of a man in a wheelchair has become the universal indicator for disability placard facilities and services that cater to the handicapped. First conceived in 1969 during a contest that aimed to make people more aware of the plight of disabled persons, it has since represented people who are physically or mentally challenged, no matter where they may be on the planet.

In a parking lot, the wheelchair icon designates the spaces that have been set aside for the exclusive use of the people represented by the mark. Though it is mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is hoped that compliance with the law is not simply for the sake of complying, but also because the facility owner or operator does possess a modicum of compassion for the unfortunate situation of being handicapped.

The concession is, admittedly, most beneficial for persons who are unable to walk, those who require wheelchairs or some other device that assists mobility. However, as the wheelchair icon exists not just for wheelchair users, but sufferers of all types of disabilities, even those who are deaf or possess a debilitating heart condition are permitted to use these special parking spaces as well. For persons like the deaf, for whom movement is no more difficult than it would be for someone who is not deaf, the preferential parking space does not compensate for his physical concern. Rather, it is more of adherence to a principle, that those who have less in life should somehow have more in law, to balance the scales.

The wheelchair icon stencil is a valuable tool for maintaining legal compliance, or sympathy for the disabled, or both, allowing one to paint and re-touch the pavement marking as the need arises. It is not the only marking that works in favor of the handicapped, however, nor is it the only way to indicate the parking spaces that are reserved for them.

For instance, members of the handicapped community are advocating a shift from the wheelchair icon to the use of a simple capital “A” inside a box, which stands for “Access”. It is hoped that this symbol will gain popularity over time, as a more representative icon for all of the disabled community instead of just the select few who happen to be in wheelchairs. It has also been suggested that the “HANDICAP” word marking, which is readily available in stencil format, likewise be used instead so as not to discriminate, or create prejudice, between wheelchair users and other handicapped individuals.

By admin

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