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What Goes into a Symbol? A Lot of Thought. Just Ask the Accessible Icon Project.

ADA Sign Depot

November 19, 2014

ADA Sign Depot

Action Style - Active Style - NY Style - The New Wheelchair Symbol Sign

The new, active style International Symbol of Accessibility from

Active Style Wheelchair symbolThis new active style Wheelchair Symbol is available from ADA Sign Depot. When purchasing our custom or made-to-order Symbol of Accessibility signs, just let us know you want to use the new Accessible Icon Project wheelchair symbol.

Head Position

Head is forward to indicate the forward motion of the person through space. Here the person is the “driver” or decision maker about her mobility.

Arm Angle

Arm is pointing backward to suggest the dynamic mobility of a chair user, regardless of whether or not she uses her arms. Depicting the body in motion represents the symbolically active status of navigating the world.

Wheel Cutouts

By including white angled knockouts the symbol presents the wheel as being in motion. These knockouts also work for creating stencils used in spray paint application of the icon. Having just one version of the logo keeps things more consistent and allows viewers to more clearly understand intended message.

Limb Rendition

The human depiction in this icon is consistent with other body representations found in the ISO 7001 – DOT Pictograms. Using a different portrayal of the human body would clash with these established and widely used icons and could lead to confusion.

Leg Position

The leg has been moved forward to allow for more space between it and the wheel which allows for better readability and cleaner application of icon as a stencil.

Is this ADA Compliant?

The short answer is yes. Federal and state officials have determined that slight variations on the historical International Symbol of Accessibility are generally permissible as long as the symbol clearly displays a wheelchair and signifies accessibility.

Forward thinking companies such as The TJX Companies, have utilized another progressive symbol by the graphic designer Brendan Murphy. We are grateful that companies like Talbots have embraced the Accessible Icon as well.

Different states have different regulations concerning the size, color, and placement of the symbol. For instance, in Massachusetts, accessible parking spots must be identified by a vertical parking sign, but symbols on the ground are not required. We recommend that you review state and local regulations before painting the Accessible Icon on parking spots or placing the sticker on signs.

Although some states require that the background be painted in “Handicapped” Blue – which we will call Accessible Blue from this point forward! – and the figure be painted in white striping paint. Other states such as Massachusetts do not mandate a color scheme. For this reason, some of the logos we’ve painted have figures that are rendered in striping paint red on a safety yellow background – which we think might be superior for people with limited vision – while others have been rendered the figure in striping paint white over the Accessible Blue background.  Again, we recommend that you review state and local regulations before painting the Accessible Icon.

The Accessible Icon, created by Sara Hendren & Brian Glenney, is in the public domain and free of known copyright restrictions.



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