Albany, NY - July 25, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation that will further advance New York State as an advocate of rights for people with disabilities. It amends existing law to require the removal of the word “handicapped” from new or replaced state signage, as well as update and destigmatize the accessibility logo. Just enacted, this legislation comes during the 24th anniversary of the national Americans with Disabilities Act, which was the first major step to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a disability.
“New York has long been a leader when it comes to fighting discrimination to protect New Yorkers including people with disabilities,” Governor Cuomo said. “This bill is an important step toward correcting society’s understanding of accessibility and eliminating a stigma for more than one million New Yorkers, and I am proud to sign it into law today.”
One of the largest concerns is that existing signage and language emphasizes the disability itself, rather than the person. The current universal symbol for a person with a disability represents an individual with a wheelchair, which will be updated on all new signage to portray a more active image (view here). Additionally, the word “handicapped” will be removed from signs, or any other communication, now using only the word “accessible.”
Senator David Carlucci said, "On the eve of the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing our Accessibility Icon legislation into law. New York is again leading the way by being the first state in the Nation to update our outdated 'handicap' signs with a more active, engaging symbol. Working together we will continue to be a shining example for disability rights throughout the country.”
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef said, “A picture is worth a thousand words. The disability community is hindered by outdated language and symbols that stigmatize them and align them with a negative connotation or an image of immobility. These new signs and this new language call for businesses, schools, governments and organizations to help change negative to positive, static to mobile, and help to further incorporate our disability community into the mainstream. I have worked closely with community advocates to promote this first in the nation legislation. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this landmark bill into law.”
NYAIL Executive Director Lindsay Miller said, "The New York Association on Independent Living applauds Governor Cuomo for signing this symbolic legislation, reaffirming New York as a national leader on disability rights. The change to the revamped ‘accessible’ sign is significant to the disability community as we mark the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and continue efforts to improve access to community based supports through Olmstead implementation."
Our Ability President and CEO John Robinson said, "Our ability in life is the cornerstone of each individual's personal makeup. Individuals with disabilities are not handicapped. We all have the ability to achieve in life, and this updated symbol is an important step in showcasing everybody's individual ability. We are proud to support Governor Cuomo in this new law."
SANYS board president Cathy Loquercio said, "We want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill and listening to advocates around the state. The word handicapped comes from a time when many people with disabilities had to hold their caps out in their hands and beg for money. We also like the new logo. It shows us as the capable active people we are and want to be!"
Independent Living, Inc. Executive Director Douglas Hovey said, "As a person with a disability, I applaud Governor Cuomo and can say that the new access symbol is yet another great step toward the integration of people with disabilities into our society. The new symbol is more progressive and illustrates how we as people with disabilities are much more active at all levels including areas of employment, housing and recreation…it shows people with disabilities moving forward."