Social Issues July 6, 2013
Is The "Accessible Icon" Wheelchair Logo Due For A Redesign?


We've all seen the International Symbol of Access (ISA) - a blue square with an image in white of person using a wheelchair. It's approved by the International Standards Organization (ISO), and the symbol is generally placed wherever access has been improved for people with disability issues.

It was first designed by Susanne Koefoed in 1968 - although she didn't give the symbol a head. That was added a while later by Karl Montan.


But most of us probably haven't thought too much about the image and what it represents.

Well, one group has given it some thought, and they want to make some changes. The Accessible Icon Project is pushing for an update to the symbol, one that is more modern, and that depicts a more active figure.

According to the group, the original design focuses too much on the wheelchair, rather than the person who's sitting in it, and depicts that person as stiff and passive.

They say this is representative of the treatment that many people with disabilities have faced:

"People with disabilities have a long history of being spoken for, of being rendered passive in decisions about their lives," the group writes on its website.

"The old icon, while a milestone in ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) history, displays that passivity: its arms and legs are drawn like mechanical parts, its posture is unnaturally erect, and its entire look is one that make the chair, not the person, important and visible."

The Accessible Icon Project wants to introduce a new design, one that is active and engaged, with a focus on mobility and movement, but still in line with other ISO-approved pictograms.

Here's their updated design:


It was created by designer Sara Hendren, who has engaged in a little guerrilla marketing over the years, including illegally stickering over the original design with this new one, reports.

Hendren says the real goal of the campaign isn't just to replace the existing symbol with her new design - it's to get people thinking.

There's a much bigger question to ask about who is abled and who is disabled and what we think about dependence and need,'' she said. "I'm just trying to start a discussion where we reevaluate our assumptions and our attitudes.'

Via Laughing Squid


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