The ubiquitous accessibility logo, featuring a stick figure in a wheelchair, is receiving a makeover. Activists, concerned that symbol was seen as too passive, have revitalized the image to depict the wheelchair in speeding motion.
The original International Symbol of Access
The original blue and white symbol, called The International Symbol of Access (ISA), was first designed by Susanne Koefd in 1968. It has since become commonly used for parking spaces and to signify accessible elevators and pathways. In addition to the passive look of the old logo, many were concerned that the logo had lost its meaning over the years. Sara Hendren, one of the new logo’s co-designers noted: “What I found was that whenever I showed people our new icon, they were like, ‘That looks great! What does the old one look like?'” she says. “In other words, it was so ubiquitous it had become invisible.”
The new Accessible Icon gains traction
Hendren and Brian Glenney designed the new logo initially as sort of a guerrilla art project. The new symbol was distributed via transparent stickers that quickly were seen all around the city of Boston. The stickers captured the attention of local writer Billy Baker whose piece in the Boston Globe brought even more attention to the project. Eventually the project came to the attention of the new Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of People With Disabilities in New York City, Victor Calise. The symbol is being rolled out to official signage in New York City, initially in areas being rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy.
You can read more about the new logo at The Accessible Icon Project.