Handicap Signage

You’ve seen these signs all over and probably know what these are used for. Signs that carry the telltale wheelchair symbol, or handicap signage as most people refer to them, are often posted in areas where facilities for those in wheelchairs, and those who have disabilities, can be found. You will usually find these signs near ramps, parking spaces that are reserved for those vehicles that carry people with disabilities and essentially near facilities that can be used and accessed by the same.

In the US, the use of these signs is actually mandated by law, and as such, neglecting to have these in your facility, as well as not having options for accessibility will actually put your company in trouble. If this is a law in the US however, is this same thing in effect elsewhere? Is the rule for the use of handicap signage enforced in other countries too?

The term used for the wheelchair symbol is the International Symbol of Access, which makes you wonder if it is indeed used internationally. This term, which is oftentimes shortened to the acronym ISA, and sometimes called the International Wheelchair Symbol, is actually used to help people understand that this pictogram can be used anywhere in the world for showing where accessibility options can be found. This then begs the question again as to whether or not this symbol, and the signs that these are used on, is mandated to be used worldwide.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

This Convention is somewhat similar to the ADA, and is what the UN has put together in order to protect the rights of people with disabilities. This Convention is what helped make people with disabilities enjoy the same rights as every other able-bodied individual, and is the same one that strived (and still continues to strive) to remove the notion that people with disabilities are charity cases or are in need of social protection.

This particular Convention was ratified by 126 states in the five years after its introduction, and currently has 158 signatories. Ironically enough, the US failed to ratify this very same Convention in 2012 since it did not get the 67 votes needed for ratification. This is probably not that big a deal though since the US already has the ADA in place, which essentially takes care of the same rights that this particular Convention strives to protect and uphold.

With the ADA in place in the US, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities being used elsewhere in the world, you can now easily see the easily-recognizable wheelchair symbol on signs everywhere. These are used internationally as they are used in the US – to mark accessibility options, parking slots reserved for people with disabilities, and to show people whether or not restrooms have facilities that can accommodate wheelchairs. These are also in the usual blue and white design that was first created by Susanne Koefoed in 1968 which was then modified to have a head by Karl Montan.

New Wheelchair Symbol

These days, the latest buzz around handicap signage is the alteration of the symbol to show that people in wheelchairs are not really passive, as is indicated by the diagram. A revised ISA is now in use on some areas of the US, and is being pushed by numerous proponents to take over the old symbol everywhere. Whether or not this idea will take flight internationally, and even locally, still remains to be seen.



Share on Facebook