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Malloy Visits Favarh to Sign Legislation Modernizing Accessible Parking Signs

June 29, 2016 Community No Comments

By John Fitts 

Starting nearly a year ago, Canton resident Lauren Traceski began advocating for a change in the state’s parking sign for those with disabilities.

On Tuesday, when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy came to Canton-based Favarh to sign the legislation designed to modernize Connecticut’s reserved parking signs, Traceski was right there in the mix of things. She watched the governor change pens as he wrote each letter of his name on the bill and even helped cut the ribbon for another project at the facility.

Traceski, however, was still somewhat in shock that the bill had passed the Connecticut State legislature in the closing moments of the session in early May.

“It’s mind blowing,” she said. “I didn’t think it would get passed.”

Traceski is a client at Favarh, client representative for its board and a part of the organization’s work team.

Favarh, which supports people with intellectual, physical and developmental disabilities, launched a campaign in 2015 to “Change the Sign, Change the Attitude.” It was an effort to get the state to adapt a more modern symbol and language.

The new signs replace the stick figure and the words “handicapped” with a the “Modified International Symbol of Access” and the words “reserved.”

Traceski and Todd Theriault, her fellow “self advocate” at Favarh, were at the forefront of the effort, gathering support and talking to state legislators. That include visits to the state capital, including one just days before the session ended.

“They’re action demonstrated the real heart of this new law and that is that no matter whether you have a physical disability, an intellectual disability or any so-called limitation, people should be view not for what they can’t do but for what they can do,” said Stephen Morris, the organization’s executive director.

While there was some resistance to the bill but it had the overwhelming support of legislators. However, officials at Favarh were fearful it wouldn’t get passed.

“We knew if it got called, it would pass,” Morris said

Jonathan Slifka, the governor’s liaison for the disability community, called the bill “another step in the evolution of the disability awareness” but added that “more importantly (it’s) taking disability awareness and turning it into action,”

In his remarks at Favarh, Malloy called the bill part of a greater movement.

“We want our citizens here in Connecticut to reach the highest heights they possibly can with as much services as we can afford to provide, living as good a life as is humanly possible,” he said. “That’s our goal and I think this is an important step moving forward with that.”

A posting by Canton Compass on facebook of the bill’s passage and Malloy’s presence in Connecticut drew a few “angry” emoji’s and some negative comments about the governor and a few for the bill itself.

At Favarh, the mood was much different and clients cheered the governor enthusiastically as he arrived. Malloy, however, seemed aware that he is not always received as a popular figure and took the chance to note it with a smile.

“Thank you for that really nice welcome when I came in,” he said. “Thank you for that. I don’t get that too often.”

The new signs will be utilized for new construction or to replace those that have worn out, officials said.

The new law is Public Act 16-78, An Act Modernizing the Symbol of Access for Persons with Disabilities.

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