Government Administration and Elections Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5050

Title:

AN ACT MODERNIZING THE SYMBOL OF ACCESS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.

Vote Date:

3/11/2016

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/22/2016

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

GAE Committee, on behalf of Governor Malloy

Co-sponsors:

Rep. John K. Hampton, 16th Dist.

Sen. Beth Bye, 5th Dist.

Rep. Emmett D. Riley, 46th Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill would require the Department of Administrative Services to begin the process of determining a modernized symbol of access for use in public facilities. The symbol would be required to depict a dynamic and moving figure, as well as be immediately identifiable with no other possible interpretation. This bill would also change replace the term “Handicapped” with “Reserved” on all signage.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Commissioner Murray, Department of Developmental Services

The Department is supportive of the policy, stating that the proposed logo and guidelines comport with the person-first language policy implemented in 2010.

Jonathan Slifka, Office of the Governor

Believes this is a vital step in the movement towards disability action and awareness. The modernization is much needed, as the current symbol is one that is not representative of the disabled community. He also noted that the State of New York has already made a similar change.

Commissioner Currey, Department of Administrative Services

The department supports this measure, as well as any efforts to be inclusive and modernizing. As written, this proposal would apply to prospective purchases and replacement, so it will not have a fiscal impact on a moving-forward basis.

The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities

The CHRO has received numerous complaints about the existing symbol of access, and stated that the proposed logo would have a psychological effect on those affected, as it is a more dynamic and purportedly independent.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Shannon Jacovino, The Arc Connecticut

Supported the proposal, as it is a continuation of the “change the sign” campaign that a number of self-advocates have supported. Symbol will more accurately reflect the diversity of the disability community, as the focus would then be taken off the wheelchair, which is not a universal feature of the community.

Deb Hutton, Director of State Government Affairs, Cigna

This bill would be in line with a campaign that Cigna has undergone over the past several months to change the symbol.

Julie Erickson, CCARC

The main purpose of this measure would be to chanter the public perception and attitude towards people with accessibility needs.

The following individuals and organizations:

Shelagh McClure, CT Council on Developmental Disabilities

Beth Wescott, DDS Case Manager

Cheryl Dwyer

Dr. Lisa Weisinger, West Hartford

Jeannine Marron, Cromwell

Testified as advocates or family members of those with disabilities, stating that the proposed new symbol would be a significant change for them, and the dynamic aspect is empowering.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Stephen Mendelsohn, Second Thoughts Connecticut

Posited that the proposed change, as well as any unilateral changes to the symbol of access, would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and, as such, would jeopardize federal highway funding for the state should it be adopted. Recommended two alternative steps: 1) retain section 5 of the bill which changes the term “Handicapped” to “Reserved” on signage and 2) Adopt signs, over time, that state “ Wheelchair Access Aisle – Absolutely No Parking” as the state of South Dakota has done.

Catherine Ludlum, Second Thoughts Connecticut

The proposed change to a new symbol of access is divisive to the disable community, and distracts from more pressing matters facing the community such as residential services and resources. Supports only section 5, replacing the term “Handicapped” with “Reserved” on signage.

Christopher O'Brien, Wolcott

Believes that the proposed symbol introduces emotion and shows preferential treatment to people with disabilities. Would like a modified symbol that also contains a safety awareness for other vehicles to protect the individuals that utilize the spaces.

Reported by: Michael Piersall

Date: 3/24/2016