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Suggestive Signs Around

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Author: Lala C. Ballatan

One of his nurses e-mailed wintermute2_0 a picture which he posted on January 27, 2005 at the site, It shows a sign which serves as a warning for persons in wheelchairs situated in a park or zoo lagoon down below a descending bridge, it seems. It indicates that the lagoon has crocodiles in it and that the persons in wheelchairs must take care not to go at racing speed down the bridge. The consequence suggested that a crocodile may be waiting for them to eat them.

I smiled a rather silly smile after looking at the sign. Don't get me wrong, I perfectly understand the sign, and when I see such on certain places, I wouldn't have reacted like I did just now. But a question really popped out of nowhere in the recesses of my mind - do alligators consider persons in wheelchair preferable to swallow rather than non-disabled ones? It might be because when persons in wheelchair fall into the water and into their waiting mouths, they're easy to gobble up because of their helplessness? So…there's a little grain of possibility that alligators can now think enough to prefer who they want to eat, huh? Tsk…tsk…tsk…

To normal persons like us, the sign might not have that much impact. But to those with disabilities and especially the wheelchair-bound ones, they really can be quite muddled over the sign. They would even think, as wintermute2_0 has thought - "is the sign really intended as a warning or a suggestion?"

As for me, I think the sign was indeed a sign of caution. But need they be that specific on wheelchair-bound persons? Did a previous event prompt such action to warn the families of persons in wheelchairs to watch out for their kin? Do they think persons in wheelchairs are uncoordinated and careless enough to race their wheelchairs at an unmanageable speed? Can't they design another sign that would warn "everyone" of the danger?

Actually there are many signs all around that are sometimes presented suggestively other than the real intention it should be conveying. People don't have that much time to decipher signs - what they mean and what are their implications - so much so that those posting such signs must be very careful to convey their message directly and clearly.

As with the sign we're talking about - there's nothing wrong with the one who sends out the message or the receiver, or even the position where the message was delivered - there's something wrong with the medium. That makes the communication process a little bit muddled.

About the author

Lala B. is a 26 year-old Communication Arts graduate, with a major in Journalism. Right after graduating last 1999, she worked for one year as a clerk then became a Research, Publication and Documentation Program Director at a non-government organization, which focuses on the rights, interests and welfare of workers for about four years.

Book reading has always been her greatest passion -- mysteries, horrors, psycho-thrillers, historical documentaries and classics. She got hooked into it way back when she was but a shy kid.

Her writing prowess began as early as she was 10 years old in girlish diaries. With writing, she felt freedom - to express her viewpoints and assert it, to bring out all concerns -- imagined and observed, to bear witness.

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