Empowering Makeover for Maynard Handicapped Spaces

Maynard’s municipal handicapped parking spaces before (left) and after (right)
Maynard’s municipal handicapped parking spaces before (left) and after (right)
Town of Maynard

Maynard’s municipal parking spaces—all 15 of them—got a refresh this month: A new graphic icon.

Gone is the standard International Symbol of Access, which portrays a passive, immobile person in a wheelchair. In its place, there’s the icon created by the Malden-based Accessible Icon Project, which depicts a more active and empowered person in the wheelchair.

The makeover was spearheaded by 18-year-old Maynard resident Kayla O’Mahony, who suggested it to the town’s Board of Selectmen on May 7.

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“I want to help shift society’s perspectives on people with disabilities, and I figured an old, outdated icon that people look at every day was a good place to start,” O’Mahony said in a statement.

“Once we heard Kayla’s proposal, we knew we wanted to get involved with The Accessible Icon Project,” Maynard Town Administrator Kevin Sweet said. “Municipal parking spaces are a great place to start, but we also hope to make the rest of our town and our vibrant business community aware of the project.”

Local vendors Tint-a-Glass and WJM Carpentry helped out by printing and cutting the stencil used to paint the new icons:

Accessible Icon Project co-founder and designer Sara Hendren told Boston.com she was “thrilled” about Maynard’s new icons.

“The project is a social design effort—way, way more than a graphic icon,” Hendren said. “The icon is a symbol, even a kind of open template, for the concrete actions we and our network of allies want to see for inclusive societies everywhere.”

Mass. cities Burlington, Cambridge, Malden, and Salem have partnered with the Accessible Icon Project, though Maynard appears to be the first to use the icon on its municipal spaces.

Can’t make it all the way to Maynard to see the new icons? No problem: Accessible Icon’s website lists several Boston-area organizations that have also adopted the symbol, including the Boston Medical Center, Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston, Building Restoration Services, and Goodwin Procter.

Just don’t go to Beacon Hill, whose residents are currently suing the city to prevent the installation of “historically inappropriate” handicap accessible ramps on its sidewalks.