Handicap Signage

One of the radical changes that the world of signs can claim recently is the evolution of the handicap symbol that is used on most signs used for handicap parking spaces and accessibility options. The most commonly used handicap symbol these days is the one that carries a stationary wheelchair with a stick figure of a person sitting just as immobile on it. The latest change to this particular symbol shows us a more active wheelchair user, with motion indicators drawn into the symbol and a forward leaning stick figure showing the person moving forward.

This rather revolutionary change in the handicap symbol was brought about by individuals who thought that the symbol was not a true representation of people in wheelchairs. The image depicted them as passive and inactive people when, in fact, they are as active as almost everyone. People in wheelchairs engage in many active endeavors like sports and are very passionate about these things. Some of them are even more active and athletic than those who are not in wheelchairs.

With this radical change in how the handicap symbol looks, is there a need for you to change your signs in order to carry this particular symbol? For now, there is no mandate to use this revamped “active” handicap symbol on handicap signage however, a few individuals have begun using this on their own. This new symbol is now being used in New York city as well, with the city’s commissioner for people with disabilities spearheading such a move and implementing the use of this new symbol on a few signs all across the city.

This brings about the question, should the rest of the world follow suit? Should this new, active handicap pictogram become a mandatory change for those who have these handicap signs in and around their facilities? A few people are agreeing that it is time for a change since the original symbol has been around for decades and newer wheelchairs do help make people more mobile and active than they were in the past. Still, a number of individuals disagree to this idea, and their main reason for disagreeing is the difficulty in which the change can be exacted effectively.

Some people also say that implementing such a change in one fell swoop will not only be difficult but also expensive since a lot of the handicap signs that you see in use these days are still in rather good condition. A few more still argue that the familiarity of the old pictogram does not confuse whereas the newer one may confuse people who are seeing it for the first time and do not know what to make of it. A lot of these arguments are understandable since people do like familiarity and are sometimes unwilling to adopt such a change.

In the end, whether or not the handicap signage that you use will carry the new pictograms or still use the old ones is a matter of preference, for the meantime anyway. You can choose to use these active handicap symbols on your handicap and accessibility signs, as long as the ADA rules allow its use. You might want to ask ADA signage experts in your city or state if this is acceptable and if you can indeed adopt such radical changes. If it is okay, you can have these signs customized for your use, if not, you may have to suffice with the old, easily recognizable and reliable handicap signage pictogram until these changes are made official. 

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