International Symbol of Access

Wheelchair parking onlyThe widely recognised “blue wheelie” design, photo by John Ott.

Wheelchair symbol Susanne KoefoedSusanne Koefoed’s design (left), with head added by Karl Montan (right), via Sociological Images.

Ontario’s lieutenant governor David Onley said the symbol badly needed a revamp, so launched a student design contest with Toronto’s OCAD University to find alternatives.

“Fewer than three percent of people with disabilities use a wheelchair or, as I do, an electric scooter. [The wheelchair symbol] is neither welcoming nor inclusive. Let’s make the stick figure a real person and turn the symbol into a welcome sign.”
— David Onley

Tough brief — redesigning an internationally recognised symbol that clearly communicates its message. I’m not surprised there wasn’t a winner.

Proposed accessibility symbolOne of two honourable mentions in the student design contest, winning $2,500 each.

Proposed accessibility symbolAn OCAD student submission.

Related elsewhere:
Is it time for a new wheelchair access icon?
New York City adopts new International Symbol of Accessibility
The Accessible Icon Project

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