No data suggest that wheelchair users in New York City are more independent than wheelchair users elsewhere in the country. But the new icon indicating access to buildings in the five NYC boroughs suggests they are.
The old, familiar icon in wide use is a white figure sitting straight in a wheelchair.
The new icon, which has been adopted by Talbots, a retailer and direct marketer of women’s clothing, shows the same figure bent slightly forward as if propelling himself along in his chair.
The change leaves no question about its meaning: This is accessible.
Harvard grad student Sara Hendren, who designed the new icon, said the old one intimates wheelchair users are static and passive. Her design shows them as independent and active.
The tiny shift in body posture on the new icon should encourage soldiers and other people with handicapping injuries or conditions to recognize their potential to be active again.
And it could encourage others to see them that way, too.