Dylan Itzikowitz: From accident victim to accessibility activist
When Dylan Itzikowitz was hit by a car and required the use of a wheelchair, he not only realized how inaccessible our society is, but that the symbol that was meant to represent accessibility didn’t really. Dylan is on a mission to get the Dynamic Symbol of Access- a symbol of a wheelchair in motion- as the new icon that helps promote physical and social inclusion for people of all abilities and to reframe the conversation from disability to ability. In this interview, he shares his greatest challenges and advice for others who may be interested in starting their own social impact side hustles.
What inspired you to start the Forward Movement, including why this cause is important to you?
In July of 2016, I was hit by a suspected drunk driver which required me to be in a wheelchair for 8 months. During that time, I realized how inaccessible our society is. One day, while recovering in the hospital after one of my three surgeries, I read about an American organization called The Accessible Icon Project, who designed the Dynamic Symbol- which shifts the focus from a stationary wheelchair to a person in motion. Having had to put my work and studies on hold during my recovery, I reached out to the designer, Jonathan Silver, and now together, we’re working to get Canada to adopt this new symbol.
What is the greatest challenge you had to overcome to make this idea a reality and how did you go about doing it.
Our biggest challenge was- and still is- that the Dynamic Symbol of Access is not representative of everyone (as symbols never are). We chose The Dynamic Symbol because it is an improvement that it illustrates ability, contributing to the message of accepting all levels of ability instead of abled and disabled. Before our advocacy began we engaged with organizations in the accessibility and disability space. The more support we got from people working in the disability and accessibility community, the easier it became to get support from people and organizations outside the community.
What’s next for the Forward Movement?
Up to now, The Forward Movement has just been Jonathan and I, and almost completely self-funded. We are hoping to register as a charity so
we can apply for funding to cover some of the operational costs. We are also desperately in need of passionate volunteers. There is so much opportunity and room for autonomy within our mandate.
On the policy side, we have already tabled a resolution at Queen’s Park and are also presenting to several municipal governments to adopt the sy
mbol. We have recently begun reaching out to Federal Minister for Persons with a Disability, hoping to contribute to her efforts to create Canada’s first National Accessibility.
More importantly, we have started running education and awareness events. We are hoping to use the change in symbol as a medium for conversation about the importance of social and physical inclusion for people of all abilities.
What advice would you give someone considering starting a social impact side hustle?
You don’t ask, you don’t get. Start by getting support from people/organizations who already share your values and you won’t have to convince. Ask them for their support, and ask them to connect you with other people who would feel the same way.
click to tweet: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get- @TheForwardMove advice on starting social impact side hustle.”
Also, most emails and phone numbers are readily available online. If they’re not, LinkedIn is a great way to reach out or Twitter is another great public forum for trying to connect.
Lastly, contact your Municipal government, Provincial Member of Parliament, and Federal Member Parliament of your riding: they all have to speak with you, and usually will.
What are you reading or who are you following that has expanded your understanding of the impact sector?
A must read for people starving for passion, meaning, and humor is “A Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner. A must read for people who starve for passion, meaning, and humor accompanied by a drink is “But What If We’re Wrong” by Chuck Klosterman.
Do you have a philosophy that live/work by?
Live to Live, Work to Live, but Live to Eat!
How can people get involved?
We are looking for passionate people willing to help. Email me: email@example.com Follow us on Social: Facebook/Insta: @theforwardmovement.ca; Twitter: @theforwardmove; Check out our website www.theforwardmovement.ca