“Hope’s Bill” Aims to Update and Modernize Accessibility Laws

A visit to a parking lot with outdated accessibility parking signs this winter sparked what’s become known as “Hope’s Bill.” Senate File 1136 updates current state laws to ‘people first’ language which means prohibiting the use of “handicap,” “disabled,” or “disability” on accessible parking signs.

In addition to requiring ‘people first’ language, the bill changes the wheelchair symbol on women’s restrooms to a picture of a wheelchair symbol depicting a woman wearing a dress. The change symbolizes the idea that persons with disabilities shouldn’t be presented as androgynous.

The changes outlined in the bill were presented at the Jobs, Agriculture, and Rural Development Committee hearing this past week.

The legislation also prohibits the use of the words “handicap” and “disabled” on any newly printed or digital media created or maintained by state agencies or private entities directing the public to accessible restrooms and accessible parking. Instead, a variation of the word “accessible” will be substituted. The legislation directs that any state agency must conform to these substitutions in order to continue to receive state aid.

The bill received unanimous support and was sent on to the Finance Committee. (S.F. 1136)

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