The Accessible Icon Project began in Cambridge as an art project by Brian Glenney and Sara Hendren aiming to begin conversation about the way society views disability, but it soon became a global movement.
The original icon shows the wheelchair as part of the person, whereas their version shows the wheelchair as a tool. The icon is active rather than passive. Hendren and Glenney gifted the commercial rights of the icon to Triangle, Inc., a Malden non-profit group that has been working to empower individuals with disabilities since 1971. Stickers and parking utensils are available to buy on their site. They also provide free templates.
Brendon Hildreth, a 23-year-old from Reading who has cerebral palsy and hearing loss, has been inspired by the new icon. His mother, Darcy, shares the message it sends to him: “The disability is not a part of me. I have a disability. The disability doesn’t have me.” The symbol represents moving forward.
Hildreth used to volunteer at Triangle, however now lives in New Bern, North Carolina, where he has been using a PowerPoint presentation to convince restaurants, institutions, and towns to adopt the new symbol.
So far, the icon has been adopted by the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, New York City, the Boys and Girls Club in South Boston, the Museum of Modern Art, a hospital in India, UMass-Amherst, and Malden.