New signs aim to change perspectives on physical disabilities

Bowen Island is ready to move forward, at least in terms of how we view and portray people with physical disabilities.

On December 11, Paulo Arreaga requested that council consider changing the signs that indicate barrier free access (known as the International Symbol of Access) to the Dynamic Access Symbol. 

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This symbol, championed in Canada by Torontonian Dylan Itzikowitz after a car accident that bound him temporarily to a wheelchair, shows the person sitting in the wheelchair as being active as opposed to sitting, passively.

Arreaga told council the symbol is “going rogue” in Canada, with a number of municipalities, mostly in Ontario, making the change.

“Taking this on,” he said, “shows the world that we are forward thinking.”

In conversation with The Undercurrent, Arreaga said he first saw the sign at a strip-mall in Chilliwack, not long after his daughter was diagnosed with a genetic condition known as ADCY-5 Related Dyskinesia, that causes low muscle-tone and involuntary movements.

“At the time, we were not sure if she would ever be able be able to walk, so when I saw this, I happened to be thinking about all the things that she would be able to do,” says Arreaga. “The sign motivated me, and when I saw it pop up on social media recently, I decided to take the step of sending it to various municipalities.”

Arreaga presented the idea to Squamish council in November, and they adopted the idea.

Following Arreaga’s presentation, Municipal Chief Administrative Officer Kathy Lalonde announced that the change was already underway. Whenever any municipal signs need to be updated, they will be replaced with the Dynamic Movement Sign. 

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