Have you ever wondered what that symbol drawn on handicapped parking lots is called?
Most of us recognize it as the blue and white symbol for wheelchairs, without actually knowing its name. It is officially referred to as the International Symbol of Access (IAS) as per the International Standard Organization . The main ideas behind its design were that it should be simple, practical, self-descriptive, readily identifiable from a distance and not similar to any existing signage.
Susanne Koefed, a student from Danish design, designed the first sketch of the symbol at the Scandinavian Students Organization (SDO). He presented this symbol in 1968 at the SDO; this symbol was widely used in Sweden for the following year. Furthermore, the director of Sweden’s Handicapped Institute, Karl Mountain, called for the usage of this symbol by the Rehabilitation Institution (RI). The Rehabilitation Institution asked Karl Mountain to design a symbol and present it to the convention taking place in Dublin in 1969. However, a couple of team members protested and stated that this symbol was not captivating and was indecipherable. As Mountain noted: “a slight inconvenience with the symbol is the equally thick lines, which may give an impression of a monogram of letters. With a ‘head’ on the symbol this inconvenience would disappear.” Thus, a head was added onto the symbol to give the impression of an individual sitting on the wheelchair. Within the next ten years, this improvised symbol was accepted by the United Nations and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Sara Hendren and Brian Glenney, co-founders of the Accessible Icon Project, designed a new symbol in 2012 to represent disabled individuals as being more dynamic and energetic. However, this design was rejected both by the ISO and the U.S Access Board. However, now this symbol stands to represent all disabled people across the globe.