Sept. 20, 2013

For Immediate Release

DisAbled Women's Network Logo

September 20, 2013 (Montreal) – The DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada / Reseau d’action des femmes handicapées Canada (DAWN-RAFH Canada) is encouraging post-secondary students with disabilities to participate in an international competition to redesign the accessibility symbol.

Today Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, David Onley, and OCAD University launched Reimagining Accessibility, an international student design competition to replace the traditional wheelchair sign with a more encompassing and inclusive symbol (or symbols) of accessibility.

According to Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director of DAWN-RAFH Canada, the competition is a positive and forward-thinking approach to the graphic representation of disability which is long overdue.

“As a cross disability organization which represents women with disabilities in Canada, we want to remind the organizers, the selection jury and of course the ‘would be’ designers that according to the 2010 “World Report on Disability”, the majority of people with disabilities are women,” said Brayton. “We want to encourage those who are making submissions to think creatively about gender and diversity and to not just focus on physical limitations in developing a new and more inclusive symbol.’’

DAWN-RAFH Canada supports the competition, but believes that it should be directed specifically to students and artists with disabilities, Brayton said. “Globally there are close to one billion people with disabilities. A universal symbol for people with disabilities therefore needs to come from the heart of someone with the lived experience of disability. This competition can be an opportunity to showcase the work of artists and designers with disabilities. I mean, if we wanted to redesign the woman symbol, would we be asking men?”

DAWN-RAFH Canada is calling on the campaign organizers to mitigate this mistake by focusing their outreach and promotion efforts on artists and designers with disabilities, and encouraging them to self-identify when they submit their designs.

“We will definitely be promoting the competition throughout our networks, nationally and internationally, specifically to encourage post-secondary students with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities, to submit their designs,” Brayton concluded.

Established in 1986, DAWN-RAFH Canada is the only national, feminist, cross-disability organization in Canada.



Tanya Magni, Communications Coordinator, DAWN-RAFH Canada

Tel: 1-866-396-0074 Ext: 2506