Why Are Wheelchairs More Stigmatized Than Glasses?

In 2010, Sara Hendren began a guerrilla street art campaign. The assistant professor of design teamed with philosophy professor Brian Glenney to change the commonly accepted symbol for disability, called the International Symbol of Access. It shows a figure sitting in a wheelchair, on a blue background.

Hendren and Glenney thought the symbol made the chair look more important and visible than the person sitting on it. So they came up with their own version, in which the figure was leaning forward, elbows out, as if about to push off in some direction. The pair went around pasting a transparent sticker featuring their redesign over the old symbol in public places, so that people could see both old and new. Although the new symbol has not been formally adopted, it is being used by several educational institutions, private companies, and hospitals, and is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Hendren studied at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and, together with her students at Olin College in

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus12 min read
We Need Insects More Than They Need Us: Inside the world of plastic-eating worms, dung-rolling beetles, and agricultural ants..
The interconnection of the world is a wonder. Consider the United States Declaration of Independence, says Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, a conservation biologist. It was written with the help of a wasp. In July, 1776, when Timothy Matlack, a clerk with sta
Nautilus5 min readPsychology
It Takes A Village To Raise A Meerkat: What the rare cooperative species tells us about ourselves.
Living in the flat, arid landscape of the Kalahari, meerkats are one of the most cooperative species of mammal on the planet. The scarcity of food and few places to hide from predators has led them to live in groups where they share the tasks of fora
Nautilus12 min readScience
When the Earth Had Two Moons: A new model—“The Big Splat”—explains the strange asymmetry of the moon.
For more than half a century, the moon had been mocking the best minds in science, and for Erik Asphaug enough was enough. The taunting began three years before Asphaug was born. On Oct. 7, 1959, the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft looped behind the moon, s