The governor wants to change the look of the signs denoting parking spaces for people with disabilities and he’s introduced a bill to replace the image of a person sitting passively in a wheelchair with a more active one.
The new symbol, the “Modified International Symbol of Access,” suggests independence and engagement, and focuses on the person rather than the chair, according to the governor’s office.
Gov. Dannel Malloy also wants to remove the word “handicapped” from the signs and replace it with “reserved.”
“For decades, Connecticut has been at the forefront in fighting discrimination against persons with disabilities, and this proposal is just one small, simple change that we can make. Even though it will have zero costs, it can have an important long-term impact by fostering a deeper understanding of accessibility,” Malloy said in a statement.
His proposal is to install the news signs times when a new accessible parking space is created or the old sign needs to be replaced.
Malloy said this will prevent additional costs to taxpayers or businesses.
Cigna has already decided to voluntarily convert their signs, according to the governor’s office.
“I’m excited to work along with the Governor in changing our handicapped symbol to one that displays both physical and mental independence,” Jonathan Slifka, the governor’s liaison to the disability community, said in a statement. “It is my sincere hope that we can all view the spirit of the sign rather than the literal vision and agree that this change is appropriate and long overdue.”
Stephen Morris, the executive director of Favarh, The Arc of Farmington Valley, started the “Change the Sign, Change the Attitude” last fall to promote adopting the new design in Connecticut and created an online petition that to date has over 2,000 signatures.
“Changing the accessible parking sign is not the biggest nor the most important disability-related issue that we face as a state, however it is important to my friends at Favarh and to more than 2,000 people who signed our petition. It’s also important to the degree that it will bring much needed attention to larger issues such as the misuse of accessible parking spots and the inaccessibility of many buildings and public places in our community,” he said. “We may all need an accessible community at some point in our lives. This isn’t just about changing a parking sign, it’s about public awareness of disability issues. And this isn’t about changing the community for a few of us. It is about improving the community for all of us,” he said in a statement.
The bill, An Act Modernizing the Symbol of Access for Persons with Disabilities, has been referred to the Government Administration and Elections Committee for consideration.