I’m ready for a new handicap symbol. No one needs to be told that symbols can be like stereotypes — they can become confining and limiting, but what’s worse, they have amazingly long lives. So it’s time to kill the little white stick figure man-on-wheels on the blue background and stuff him in the ground. Why? The most noticeable thing about him are his wheels. It’s as if he is saying to the public: “I’m all about wheels — that and nothing more.”
But who, or what, would replace him?
Using the stick figure theme for universal ease, we could expect something like this: Perhaps a blind person stick figure man wearing big dark glasses with blacked-out lenses. Or a hearing-impaired stick figure with large, old-fashioned hearing horns in each ear. People who walk with difficulty would get a stick figure man with two classic curved-handle canes. Intellectually impaired people might accept, if we forced it on them with no choice, a stick figure man with a tiny head.
But any one of those caricatures would exclude all the others, plus leave some out, for instance, little people.
The only solution is to combine them in one figure that symbolizes all people with disabilities — except wheelchair users, of course, who have had their turn. The figure would be a very small stick figure with a tiny head, very large dark glasses, oversize hearing horns, two canes, and just so we wouldn’t leave out dyslexics or those with ADHD, a confused loo