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Carlucci and Galef Fight For Change In Handicap Accessible Signage

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and state Sen. David Carlucci show off the new accessible signs in Ossining. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Galef and Carlucci hang up a new sign in Market Square in Ossining. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

OSSINING, N.Y. -- The handicap accessible signs, like the word handicap, are outdated, say two state legislators from Westchester and they want them changed.

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and state Sen. David Carlucci held a press conference in Ossining calling for the elimination of the word "handicapped" and a chance to accessibility signs.

The icon symbol would be changed to a person actively in motion rather than sitting passively in a wheelchair. Carlucci and Galef said the current signs are offensive.

The legislation would require that signs be replaced only when a new one is needed. New York would be the first state to adopt the law.

“We are again leading the way by being the first state in the Nation to pass legislation to update our outdated 'handicap' signs with a more active, engaging accessibility symbol, Carlucci said. "Working together we will continue to lead the way and be a shining example for disability rights throughout the country.”

Galef said changing the signs would change the perception of the disabled community.

“A picture is worth a thousand words," Galef said. "Those who are differently abled should not be hindered by outdated language or symbols that stigmatize them or align them with a negative connotation or an image of immobility."

Lisa Tarricone, director of systems advocacy for the Westchester Independent Living Center, said it is important people don't see disabled people as passive.

"This new image does not reinforce stereotypes," said Tarricone, who uses a wheelchair. "It shows us as active members of society who are in change. This new image is something disabled people can relate to."

Scott Barber said the new accessibility sign shows the progress the disabled community has made.

"It's very much appreciated," Barber said. 

Megan Schoefflin,who is blind and advocates for people with disabilities, said this is a step in the right direction.

"We're getting rid of the word handicap, which is derogatory and using the word accessible," Schoefflin said. "Hopefully we can change the public's perception."

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