One of the best examples of abled people taking it upon themselves to advocate for the disabled community while simultaneously ignoring the voices of people with disabilities until they’ve made things worse is the “new” international symbol of access.

The original, established, symbol is on the left and the “new” symbol is on the right.

So what’s the problem?

Well, the biggest problem is that the newest symbol wasn’t designed by someone in a wheelchair. It was designed by two artists who don’t use wheelchairs who thought that they could speak on behalf of people who do.

Who cares, it’s a good symbol, right?


See the original symbol, the one that’s been around for decades and has been embraced by the disabled community, works for both people in manual wheelchairs and people in electric wheelchairs. The second one is obviously someone in a manual chair, excluding those who use electric ones.

There’s also ironically an ableist message behind their reasoning that the person on the right symbolizes an active member of society, whereas the non-moving person on the right can be depicted as lazy. This reasoning is extremely ableist and ignorant, artsy for the sake of being artsy without giving thought to what they’re actually implying.

The real kicker?

My college has the new signs everywhere. New York State as a whole adopted these new signs. A ton of different buildings around the nation are putting up these new signs because people are just sort of assuming that everyone with a disability approves, even though most people in wheelchairs are objecting to it and the people who are advocating for it aren’t in wheelchairs in the first place.

And guess whose voices are the ones being heard?

And guess whose voices are the ones being ignored?

Whoa hadn’t thought about it. Thanks Tumblr for making me less ignorant every day.

Why did these two even make a new symbol???? Was there a call for one or something?????

They thought that they were doing something positive. That the symbol as it was, was outdated and it portrayed disabled people as passive and only sitting in a chair to be pushed by others.

But then I looked at that new symbol and thought ‘I don’t look like that in my wheelchair. I use an electric chair. I’ll always look like the one on the left.’


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