Re-posted in honor of Love Your Body Day.

This symbol is the international symbol for persons with disabilities:

451px-Handicapped_Accessible_sign.svg

It looks pretty straightforward.  Descriptive even.

But check out this symbol that I saw at a T.J. Maxx in California:

Picture1

Notice how the second symbol represents people with disabilities as active and independent.  There are motion signs and the figure is pushing its own chair.

The comparison reveals how much the first represents them as passive and helpless.

UPDATE! In the comments thread, Penny added a link to the symbol they use at the Huntington Library (Pasadena, CA):

1303416595_1213e0c8fb

For  more posts on symbology, see our posts on traffic lights with female figures, stick figures and stick figures who parent, and default avatars.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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