News / Toronto

Symbolism is everything as Toronto moves to implement new accessibility symbol

After lobbying by advocacy group The Forward Movement, Toronto looks to implement the Dynamic Symbol of Access across city-owned property.

Children and families of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital painted its parking lot with the new symbol, which could be implemented across Toronto, back in August.

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Children and families of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital painted its parking lot with the new symbol, which could be implemented across Toronto, back in August.

Advocates have claimed a win in their effort to usher in a more dynamic accessibility sign on city-owned properties.

The Forward Movement, which campaigns on behalf of persons with disabilities, has been asking that the Dynamic Symbol of Access replace the International Symbol of Access in municipalities across Ontario.

Using the slogan “Nothing About Us, Without Us,” the group made a presentation Monday to the city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee. The accessibility committee has now asked the Executive Committee to receive a report on how Toronto can take up the symbol — showing a person in a wheelchair pushing forward.

“It’s just better,” said Dylan Itzikowitz, co-founder of The Forward Movement. The symbol would mark city-owned parking spots, entrances and vehicles, replacing the traditional staid, upright image.

“The person in it is more defined; it illustrates ability and shows that despite being in a wheelchair, you’re able to do something,” Itzikowitz explained.

Itzikowitz started The Forward Movement about a year ago to bring the symbol, which has been adopted elsewhere, to Canada. He says it isn’t completely ideal but easily beats the existing one, which dates to the 1960s.

“Every presentation we’ve made has been positive,” he said. “It’s less about convincing and more about informing.”

In Ontario, Guelph, Stratford, Waterloo and Wellington have made moves to adopt the symbol. In the U.S., it can be seen in Connecticut, New York State and elsewhere.

The item was tabled by Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, and the report is expected to go before the Executive Committee early next year. The Accessibility Advisory Committee also recommended its adoption by the province’s Ontario Building Code and Highway Traffic Act.

“The change itself is becoming a platform for education,” Itzikowitz said. “We think it can be a catalyst for a culture shift on how people view disability.”

Backed by Special Olympics Canada, Muscular Dystrophy Canada and a range of private businesses and individuals, The Forward Movement is also trying to bring the campaign to the federal level.  

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