So. It’s been a while. How’s that for a statement of the obvious? Why has it been so long? In all honesty, I got tired. 2017 was a very up and down year, with the highs of the bike and Invictus, which I shared in detail, to the lows of a lot of changes to my health…which I didn’t share. I don’t like to whine and I still won’t as there really isn’t any news to share. It is what it is. The thing that really made me step away from writing for a while was one night in November when I drove up to my gym and found this:
Yes, that’s what you think. People waiting to pick up their kids from swimming…by actually blocking in cars in the disabled spots. Really bad disabled spots that have been improved, to give credit where it is due. I posted that as an ultimate rage post on my personal Facebook page and was on the verge of going in for a massive rant at the front desk when…I got tired. Tired of having to fight for my space. My personal space. Tired of apologizing for having to take up more room to just live. Tired of being slower getting in and out of the car. Just. Tired. I needed a break. I let others be outraged for a while. The mental exhaustion of it had been a long time coming. I felt like the guy painted on the ground. I went for my workout, but I admit it wasn’t with much energy.
You know that sign. It’s been the universal sign for disability and accessibility for ages. What do you think of when you see this sign? What does that sign inspire in you?
Not a lot does it? It seems to inspire ignorance and irrelevance here. That night I felt like what that sign shows. Someone in a chair, arms at rest, leaning back, as if awaiting a push to help them get where they are going. It’s passive. It’s old. It’s…tired.
And it isn’t me.
So what do you think when you see THIS symbol?
Notice a difference? This is more like the people I’ve met in chairs, those with other disabilities. I’ll give you a better comparison below but can you see the difference that a symbol can make? This is active, it leans into the chair. This conveys movement, showing the disabled driving themselves forward. This is who I am.
Have you seen these around southern Ontario at all? Did you notice the difference? This change is a project begun by The Forward Movement, a group that has encouraged businesses and municipalities to move on from the old international symbol into something that is more relevant to the disabled today. Now, I am not cribbing from their website to say that and I have no affiliation with them. I fully support what they do and anyone who I’ve pointed the symbol out to seems to get the relevance. Do you? Take a closer look.
Do you see it? It isn’t just about people in chairs, but this is the most obvious and visible symbol to make people see spots and locations that are designated for all of us with needs. It’s showing the new face of disability in 2018 and beyond. A world where you will be seeing more of us out and about. I’m seeing it. I’m sharing the nods and outstretched waves with more people out in chairs than ever before (no we don’t have a secret handshake…yet). So once again I ask…are you seeing it?
2018 is a new year. It’s time to get past my aches and pains and exhaustion and start my little bit of the fight once more. Care to help with that? Take a look at your public spaces at work, where you shop, where you live. Are these old signs tired and worn or just being ignored? Then talk to someone..suggest a change and perhaps get in contact with the Forward Movement. You can find them on the web at: www.theforwardmovement.ca or on FB, Twitter and Instagram. Do a search for them and you’ll see the progress they are making, including an endorsement of the movement from the city of Toronto. I first saw a version of this in the underground parking at Yorkdale Mall. It’s not an exact match but close…and it caught my eye. Soon after they were at Variety Village and I started following their progress. Why don’t you follow it too and see what you can do to help change some attitudes.
Oh and if you see spots being blocked like that? Say something. Because now I’m ready to get back on the steel horse I ride and do something about it too.
Yep. I’m back.