ASI, Buffalo updated the network regarding an important change to the state of New York’s accessibility code. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation in July 2014 that took effect this past November 2014, requiring that new and replacement signage must include a new version of the ISA accessibility symbol and ensure that the word “accessible” is used instead of “handicapped”.Both changes were implemented to help eliminate the negative stigma that may come with an image of an immobile wheelchair or the word “handicapped”. Click here for an article that displays the new symbol. We see that the new symbol depicts a disabled individual who is active and moving forward, a very action-based and positive image. The word “handicapped” was coined at a time when many people with disabilities literally held their caps out in their hands to beg for money, so needless to say it’s a very outdated and negative term.
This is a great example of how states and local governments use the federal ADA requirements as a baseline for their accessibility codes, while they have the ability to go above-and-beyond and enhance their codes, as New York has done in this case. New York, a recognized leader for fighting discrimination and protecting its citizens including disabled individuals, has set a fascinating precedent, making it somewhat easier for other states and local governments to follow with similar changes in the near future. This story is worth monitoring and will undoubtedly evolve further.
The other takeaway here is that these changes are extremely consistent with why the ADA was created in the first place. The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law 24 years ago to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to fully participate in society without discrimination, and to be viewed as productive and active individuals. And always moving forward.