No Wheelchair Represents Everyone With Disabilities

To the Editor:

I read “A Team of Academics Redesigns an Icon” (The Chronicle, May 20) with dismay. For far too long, I and many of my colleagues have been fighting this issue of being represented by a little blue wheelchair. I do not have a mobility impairment, although I am and consider myself disabled. That people who might consider themselves academics would foster and market something so discriminatory is appalling.

The word disability is fully inclusive. Why would anyone who is moving to change the icon push to continue using a wheelchair that is not fully inclusive of the community? I have been an active representative within the community of people with disabilities for the past 17 years and this article  is the first I have heard of a movement to change the icon. I happen to be blind and in no way, shape, or form does the international sign for accessibility, whether slouching or active, represent me.

Any change to the icon must be fully inclusive of all disabilities. Victor Calise, commissioner of the New York mayor’s Office for People With Disabilities, is wrong for embracing such a major change without discussing it within the community of people with disabilities in New York City.

People with disabilities cover the gamut and should be represented as such. If the icon is in need of change, any change must be inclusive of all disabilities. If the commissioner feels the need to advocate for such a change, he should begin with the community he himself represents, not with some academic in Boston. I am more than sure I could find a representative sample of people with disabilities in New York City who would be willing to participate in focus groups and surveys as a part of implementing an icon change.

Believe me, I am all for a change; however, any change should include the community of people with disabilities, not just wheelchair users.

Mike Godino
Malverne, N.Y.

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