As I reflect on the title of this post, a sense of peace washes over me. Accessibility means so many things – an ability to go where I want to go. It means that if I don’t have to work so hard to do something, I have more energy to do other things. It means that my over-stressed joints aren’t required to perform the equivalent of mini-miracles, just to do the things most people take for granted.
My short stays at the rehab hospital came complete with electric wheelchairs. It was long enough to learn how frustrating it can be trying to get into building that are not designed for wheelchairs to cross their lintels.
However, disability takes many forms, some of them not readily visible. One of the disconcerting things about the current handicapped symbol is that it educates the public to assume that if you are not in a wheelchair you are violating handicapped parking rules.
I have been berated for using my handicapped parking symbol because I was not in a wheelchair. These well-meaning people have made the assumption that I don’t need the handicapped space and are defending the rights of wheelchair users. Or not. What they don’t see is my new hip replacement or how I’m limping on my “marbleized” toes. In this article, Hayley Cafarella does a great job describing the things the public doesn’t see.
I rarely use my handicapped parking sticker, as I would rather see someone who really needs the space use it. I police myself and use it only when necessary.
This is an article that suggests replacing the wheelchair symbol with the letter A. After all, it’s what we all want to move towards – accessibility.
There is one problem with this as a symbol – it would only work in countries where the word “accessible” begins with the letter “A”. Years ago, before A Rheumful of Tips was conceived, I tweeted a blog post where someone had suggested a replacement for the current symbol; it wasn’t the letter “A”. Regrettably, I have been unsuccessful in tracking down that post. Perhaps you might remember it.