3E Love’s registered trademark, the “International Symbol of Acceptance” also known as the “wheelchair-heart logo,” is the drive behind much of the company’s goals and products. It is a symbol of society accepting people with disabilities as equals and a symbol that people with disabilities accept their challenges and even embrace them. By replacing the wheel with a heart, the stigma of the wheelchair is also removed, and it can be a symbol for people with any disability or impairment. It represents the person, not society’s perception of him or her.
The symbol is an attitude and a lifestyle. It’s accepting one’s abilities and rallying around that diversity and turning it into strength. It’s loving and living life to the fullest no matter who you are and what you look like, no matter what you can or cannot do.
It’s a positive alternative to the traditional “handicapped symbol”, where the focus is person’s differences and a wheelchair. Only a small portion of people utilizing services associated with the symbol use wheelchairs. People with such an array of conditions as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, paralysis, down syndrome, autism, visual impairments, hearing impairments, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even natural age-related impairments should not all be grouped by such a stigmatizing symbol. The traditional symbol screams “Beware. Someone different parks here.” or “Pity them and give them charity.”
That’s one thing the symbol is not – a symbol of pity. One of Annie’s greatest fears was that the meaning of our symbol would be related to charity, or the quest for a cure. It is of course a result of ignorance when people see our symbol and automatically ask “Where do I donate?” — that’s an ignorance we hope to change. And it’s also the reason we attached it to a business, entrepreneurship, and products. It’s a flat out statement if 3E Love is successful from a business perspective that people with disabilities can achieve things without a handout.
Behind our symbol is a company started by people with disabilities, with pride, joy and passion for who they are and what they can achieve. Call it a “cause” if you insist, as long as the cause has nothing to do with wishing for change to who we are, but instead change to how we are perceived.
To Annie, it was the tattoo on the back of her shoulder that opened up so many doors for her. People would come up to her on the street and tell her how much they liked it. She would befriend them, and they would realize that she is more than a woman in a chair. It was a social conversation piece at the start. It took a few years for her to realize it was so much more and could have a positive impact on others the way it had for her.
To Stevie, it means – “No I am not in a wheelchair, I use one – and I love that I do! I wouldn’t change that for anything. Everything I am and who I have become is directly connected to my disability. And I love the life I have, and try to love it even more on the bad days. The symbol is also a statement – I am not just a person in a chair, I am a man who has friends and a family, who loves, who wants to be loved, who is educated, wants to achieve great things, and who wants to love every year on earth, whether it’s 85 or 28 years.”
Learn more about 3E Love by visiting their website: www.3elove.com