Buildings Buzz

New Symbol to Change Outlook on Accessibility

PHOTO CREDIT: Allstate Sign and Plaque

Have you seen the new accessibility symbol?

In 2012, the Accessible Icon project unveiled a new accessibility symbol for global consideration. Today, New York State and many communities around the world have embraced it.  

If you have not seen the new symbol, it features a completely redesigned figure. The wheels and arms are in motion to better depict mobility. The head and legs have also been revised to meet ADA guidelines and represent a much more able individual than symbols in the past. Previous symbols depicted what appeared to be an immobile individual, with the focus solely on the chair. The Accessible Icon project revised the symbol to provide a better representation of the disabled community, which could replace the current International Symbol of Access. From the tilt of the head to the angle of the arm, its underlying message zeros in on the individual’s movement. The wheel cutouts now feature angled knockouts to give the illusion that they are also in motion.

It’s important for contractors and builders to become aware of this new symbol, as accessibility is an important component in the building process. Within the next few years, legislation may be passed to require the use of this new symbol on future signage throughout the country. In fact, the state of New York passed legislation that requires contractors to use this new symbol on replaced or new signage.

New York also removed the word “handicap” from all accessibility verbiage. For example, reserved lots for the disabled are now known as “accessible parking spaces” in New York. Governor Cuomo said the legislation is “an important step toward correcting society’s understanding of accessibility and eliminating a stigma for more than one million New Yorkers.”

Contractors can begin to integrate this new symbol into their current projects. Various areas that can be modified to feature this accessibility symbol include parking lots, hallways, on doors and more. Contractors can purchase signage for their new projects through registered vendors. This new version of the symbol is also available as a stencil for use in parking lots and other areas. Most vendors have these signs and stencils available and are seeing an increase in the purchasing of them for new areas and to replace existing signs.  

The safety of all individuals is important for all contractors and builders to keep in mind. But now with the advancement of technology for individuals with disabilities and more robust medical options, contractors need to reevaluate the needs of the disabled community.

For example, contractors have always integrated accessible features, however, they should now also integrate accessible features for the needs of a more active individual with disabilities. Ultimately, this awareness could trickle down to simple projects such as the placement of an accessible sign to the spot designated for accessible vehicles.  

It’s exciting to see how the community will come together to make buildings and facilities much accessible for individuals with disabilities and how signage can impact the way the public perceives those individuals. Using these new signs is a step in the right direction.

Mark Fick is the President and Owner of Allstate Sign & Plaque.

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