WENHAM — The handicapped parking spots at Gordon College not only got a fresh coat of paint yesterday — they got a new look.
A professor and a group of high school students painted over the typical blue-and-white accessibility icons and replaced them with a more active and engaged symbol as part of the Accessible Icon Project.
The standard logo displayed in most places around the world — known as the International Symbol of Access — features a stationary wheelchair with a static stick figure. But the newly designed icon depicts a person with an arm in the air as if to push the wheels forward.
The project was started by Brian Glenney, assistant professor of philosophy, and Sara Hendren, a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Glenney, a former graffiti artist, said the idea for the new logo came out of an art exhibit he did with Hendren in 2009 at the college. The new logo aims to challenge how people perceive those who are disabled, he said.
“The project is evolving the handicap symbol from a static stick figure into a symbol that is active and embodied,” Glenney said. “The symbol is actually called the International Symbol of Access, but everybody calls it the handicap symbol, and that is what we want to change.”
Part of Glenney’s inspiration came from Aaron Fotheringham, a 21-year-old from Las Vegas with spina bifida, who does tricks with his wheelchair at skate parks. His tricks have earned Fotheringham the nickname “Wheelz.”
Glenney, who is often seen gliding across campus on his skateboard, was looking up skateboard tricks on the Internet when he came across Fotheringham. Along with his philosophy duties, Glenney also teaches a non-credit skateboard class, which counts toward physical education requirements for students.
“I felt good about the symbol when I knew it could represent Wheelz,” Glenney said.