New symbol for accessibility depicts the “dynamic mobility” of wheelchair users

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Accessible Icon Project is promoting a new graphic to replace the familiar blue and white person in a wheelchair symbol for accessibility. The new icon, designed by Sara Hendren, a co-founder of the project, is based on the belief that how we visually represent concepts makes a difference. Instead of associating people with disabilities with the image of a stationary person in a stationary wheelchair, the Accessible Icon Project is spreading awareness of the fact that people with disabilities can be just as active and engaged as able-bodied people. Every aspect of the new image was taken into consideration during creation. From the forward tilt of the body to the in-motion wheel cutouts, the graphic depicts the “dynamic mobility” of wheelchair users, according to the project’s Icon Graphic Elements page. The new icon is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act: according to the Accessible Icon Project, “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.” Various organizations have partnered with the Accessible Icon Project, including restaurants, religious associations, and medical providers, with the number only increasing as awareness of the new icon grows.

In this Vimeo piece, watch as the Accessible Icon Project makes its New York debut. The Accessible Icon is now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.