Politics & Policy

Petition: ‘Walk Only’ Signs in Pedestrian Areas Are Insensitive to Disabled People

Arizona State University was trying to protect students from getting hit by cars.

Students at Arizona State University are petitioning to have the school change the “Walk Only” signs on the school’s pedestrian paths because they “marginalize disabled bodies that cannot walk.”

“This petition is in effort to make a more blanket title for these zones that encompasses the diversity of all bodies who occupy the community that is ASU,” states the petition, written by Alec Melger.

(Just to clarify: Although these areas are called “Walk Only Zones,” they are “not intended to limit or redirect use of mobility devices by individuals with disabilities,” according to the school website. In fact, ASU also offers transportation services for disabled students. The issue here is with the signs and not with accessibility – unless of course there are any students who are so triggered by the word “walk” that they have to avoid the area.)

In case you’re having trouble understanding why this would be a big deal to anyone, the petition left spaces for supporters to explain their reasons.

For example: According to Victoria Jackson, changing the word on the signs wasn’t just a big deal — it was “necessary.”

“This is necessary,” she wrote. “Oppressive language is a microagression [sic] that needs to be addressed and is often forgotten about.”

(Yes, “necessary.” As in, needs to be done.)

#related#Another supporter, James Qian, explained that he “was on crutches for 5 weeks and felt uncomfortable when seeing this sign.”

Funny — I spent most of last summer on crutches and I guess I forgot to call the city to tell them I was being marginalized by having to look at only able-bodied crosswalk symbols and demand that something be done. What could I have possibly been doing with my time that would have been more important than that?

According to the school, the purpose of the zones is to “ease vehicle congestion” and “enhance pedestrian safety.” ASU even hired campus mall enforcement officers to patrol the areas, which does seem like a bit much — especially if you see the creepy, totalitarian tone of the video that the school released to explain the policy. On the other hand, however, if there are adults on the campus who can’t handle seeing the word “​walk”​ on their own, maybe no amount of supervision could be too much. 

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review.   

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