Bill ‘modernizing’ handicapped parking signs in state signed, goes into effect

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Handicapped parking sign changeHARTFORD — On Wednesday, Gov. Dan Malloy signed legislation to modernize the handicapped parking sign, emphasizing ability rather than disability.

The Democrat has said the updated symbol, which depicts a figure racing ahead in a wheelchair. Advocates say it is more reflective of the diverse community that uses accessible parking spaces. Various advocacy groups have called for the new symbol, which was adopted by New York in 2014.

“Connecticut for decades has been at the forefront in fighting discrimination against persons with disabilities, and adopting this modernized symbol and updated language is a simple step that can go a long way towards changing attitudes and raising awareness,” Malloy said at the signing ceremony on Wednesday. “This is another way Connecticut is leading, and I am proud to sign this bill into law. I want to thank the residents who approached my office with this proposal and the legislators who voted in favor of this update.”

Under the bill, which goes into effect immediately, the new signs will only be installed when a new accessible parking space is being created or an old sign needs to be replaced, meaning no additional cost to taxpayers.

Some disability rights activists wanted to keep the original symbol, arguing the new one implies prejudice toward people with serious disabilities, but the change passed during the most recent legislative session with bipartisan support in both chambers.

The new symbol is known as the “modified international symbol of access.”

“Modernizing the symbol of access is a very important step in the evolution of disability action and disability awareness,” Jonathan Slifka, the governor’s liaison to the disability community, said. “For many years, the prevailing attitude towards the disability community was that they were by and large a static and sedentary group. That attitude has evolved over the years to reflect a far more active community, be it physically or otherwise. The modern symbol is a reflection of that both in the symbol itself and the change in language. Furthermore, the changing of the language from ‘handicapped’ to ‘reserved’ reflects a more accurate, updated, and accepted understanding of what it means to be an individual with a disability.”