Friday, June 7, 2013

Diller Family Volunteer Day- The Accessibility Icon Project

Sunday, June 2nd 2013
by Arianna Dines (Bedford)

Olivia Ference, Julia Spielman, Liza Sherman, Julia Habbe, Noah Bernays, Eytan Deener-Agus, and a client from Triangle

On Sunday the Fellows, staff, and parents had the amazing opportunity to work with Triangle and Ablevision on the Accessible Icon Project. Triangle is an organization that helps and employs people with developmental disabilities. Ablevision is a part of Triangle. It is an award winning television show created entirely by people with disabilities. The Accessible Icon Project works to replace the International Symbol of Access (commonly known as the handicap symbol) with a more active and engaged icon in parking lots. Upon arriving, a several employees/volunteers (both with special needs and not) talked about the programs and the project. We then discussed the issues with the commonly known “handicap” symbol.  Kineret described it as “passive,” and others brought up that it looked stationary and just waiting for someone to push them. In addition, the person appears to be part of the wheelchair. We traveled to the parking lot and spray painted new accessible parking lot icons. The new icon is more active and independent, highlighting the individual and the abilities they do have, rather than solely the wheelchair. It is meant to start dialogue for people passing by.  During the painting, some fellows talked on camera for Ablevision about what the project meant to them. After all the painting was completed, we convened again. We discussed uses of terminology, such as “handicap” parking versus “accessible.” We also talked about the independence of those with disabilities, and how they often receive help or are treated with extra care, even when they do not want it, just because people notice they have a disability. The discussion made me think deeper about the issue about things I had never even thought of such as how misrepresented people with disabilities are. Another highlight was having several generations working together. It was an enjoyable time full of hugs and laughs in addition to a great social justice and learning experience.  Diller Fellow Olivia Ference said, “it was really fun and I learned a lot about disabilities and the word handicap.” We helped to create social justice for others, learned so much, and at the same time had fun with friends and family.

JCC staff and Diller Fellow Hannah Elbaum paint-over the previous spots the night before!

Eytan Deener-Agus, Olivia Ference, and Andrew Jacobson being interviewed by Ablevision, a media news program created and produced by adults with special needs

Hannah Elbaum and her family being interviewed by Ablevision

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