International Symbol of Access

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International Symbol of Access

The International Symbol of Access (ISA), also known as the (International) Wheelchair Symbol, consists of a blue square overlaid in white with a stylized image of a person using a wheelchair. It is maintained as an international standard, ISO 7001, and a copyrighted image of the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA), a committee of Rehabilitation International.[1] It was designed by Susanne Koefoed in 1968. The design was modified by Karl Montan. Taking the original copy of the design, he added a circle to the top of the seated figure, thus giving it a head.[1]

The symbol is often seen where access has been improved, particularly for wheelchair users, but also for other disability issues.[2] Frequently, the symbol denotes the removal of environmental barriers, such as steps, to help also older people, parents with baby carriages, and travellers.[3] Universal design aims to obviate the need for such symbols by creating products and facilities that are accessible to nearly all users from the start. The wheelchair symbol is "International" and therefore not accompanied by Braille in any particular language.

Specific uses of the ISA include:

  • Marking a parking space reserved for vehicles used by disabled people/blue badge holders
  • Marking a vehicle used by a disabled person, often for permission to use a space
  • Marking a public lavatory with facilities designed for wheelchair users
  • Indicating a button to activate an automatic door
  • Indicating an accessible transit station or vehicle
  • Indicating a transit route that uses accessible vehicles

The ISA is assigned the Unicode codepoint U+267F,[4] showing as

A compatible font such as DejaVu Sans[5] must be installed to view the character. Handicapped/disabled access

Building codes such as the California Building Code, require "a white figure on a blue background. The blue shall be equal to Color No. 15090 in Federal Standard 595B."[6]

Modified ISA[edit]

Modified ISA promoted by Enabling Unit at UCMS

Disability activists are advocating against the use of traditional ISA since it displays passivity, and focuses more on the wheelchair and not person. Sara Hendren of the Accessible Icon project designed the new icon which displays an active, engaged image with focus on the person with disability.[7] Many disability organizations such as Enabling Unit in India are promoting this version.[8]