New Accessibility Symbol Promotes Inclusion
To kick off the 2019 Abilities Expo Toronto at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, we will be hosting a Forward Movement event to collectively paint the Dynamic Symbol of Access. At the event, we'll hear from the International Centre, The Abilities Expo and The Forward Movement team about their respective commitment to building inclusive communities.
Reframing Society's Views of Disability, One Sign at a Time
We started The Forward Movement in 2016 to bring the Dynamic Symbol of Accessibility ("DSA") to organizations and governments across Canada. We believed the DSA was an improvement to the old icon because it places the focus on the person and emphasizes their ability, reframing the way society views and interacts with persons with differing abilities. For this reason, our initial goal was to get the DSA formally adopted by the Canadian government.
However, we have since realized that the real impact is in how the change itself serves as a catalyst for dialogue, prompting a needed culture shift on social and physical inclusion for people of all abilities. Today, our goal is to use the adoption of the DSA itself to bring inclusion to the forefront of conversations in community organizations, academic institutions, and corporations to bring different accessibility issues to the forefront of conversations.
We acknowledge that the DSA is imperfect; it fails to represent all people who require barrier free access. But completely overhauling the design of the old icon wasn't an option because that could have confused people looking for barrier free access. The new icon is similar enough to the old icon so it is easily recognized, but it's an improvement because it symbolizes ability instead of disability. But for us, we're not simply interested in changing an icon. We believe that changing the icon creates an opportunity to prompt healthy dialogue and educate about accessibility and inclusion issues.
Nothing About Us, Without Us
Prior to launching The Forward Movement, we actively sought endorsements from organizations and communities across Canada of all sizes and representing all types of abilities. Several of the organizations that currently endorse our work are even vendors at The Abilities Expo, including Variety Village, Accessible Media Inc., Easter Seals Canada and more!
To date, we have successfully received the formal support over 80 organizations and municipalities across Canada (the full list is available on our website). We help organizations change their signage, but we also help them host events so they can actively engage in the change. These painting events bring communities together to learn from individuals with different lived experiences, ensuring organizations understand why we are they are making the change.
We have been able to scale our activism with what we have coined Open Source Activism. The success of our events garnered significant media attention, which led to communities, city councils, and corporations from across Canada asking us to run educational programs. With almost no operating budget, this was unfeasible. "Open Source Activism" enables us to empower individuals and organizations from across Canada to run Forward Movement events independently of us.
We equip and empower interested individuals to share their own message of inclusion when they adopt the DSA. However, our central team stills plays a supporting role in providing educational content, potential speakers from our endorsers, guidance on how to engage their community stakeholders, and consultation on accessibility and best-practices.
Anyone can run their own unbranded event around the adoption of the DSA. But when someone wants to run a Forward Movement branded program, we can help maximize their impact in a manner consistent with the messaging approved by our diverse set of endorsers.
Decentralized social action is often more powerful than centralized action and it is essential to messages about inclusion and accessibility; where everyone's perspective is unique and important. We are proud to be running a painting event at the upcoming Abilities Expo on April 5 at 10:00 am as it is a collective of other people committed to building an inclusive society for all. We hope the event will lead to more partnerships with individuals and organizations working on inclusion and encourage anyone who wants to join the movement to reach out to us!
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