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New disability signs replace outdated image, language


Nearly 24 years after the singing of the national Americans with Disabilities Act, a new law updating accessibility signage has been enacted in New York state. Advocates say its just the first step towards improving the lives of people with disabilities.

The new law requires the stigmatizing word "handicapped" be replaced with the word "accessible" on new state signage; the familiar blue and white logo with a person in a wheelchair be updated with a more active image.

"It sends a very clear concerted public message about the action of people with disabilities. And our ability to accomplish something," said Todd Vaarwerk, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for Western New York Independent Living. He says the legislation puts New York ahead of the curve compared to most states.

"Now what we need to do is make sure the governor follows that up with practical programming that keeps people with disabilities in the community so that they can be seen."

Vaarwerk is joining other advocates around the state in urging legislature to approve---so the governor can sign--- the Community First Choice Act.

He says it would free up $340 million in federal aid to help New Yorkers with disabilities live where they want to live and not in high-cost institutions.