International Symbol of Access
In 1969, the Congress of the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility adopted the image of a person in a wheelchair as a universal symbol. It is still used today. Half a century later, a competition was held to develop a new sign which would reflect the diversity of people using buildings and other objects of the environment. The studio took part in the contest.
In addition to describing a human condition or the type of limitations that people may face, the term “disabled” also refers to the inaccessibility of the world. For persons in such a position, it is not them who are “disabled” but rather the surrounding environment. To show that a specific object is accessible, we propose to introduce the “enabled” symbol.
The symbol is well known thanks to mobile app interfaces. For people with disabilities, it means the same thing: if a museum uses such a symbol, it meas that it is accessible, it is “enabled.”
The symbol can be placed on media of any size and shape and can be complemented by textual explanations or greetings. Such flexibility allows to fully reflect the principles of equal opportunity and inclusion.
Most importantly, the new international symbol changes the way we look at disability: it shifts the emphasis from the limitations a person has to live with to the accessibility of the environment, replacing the negative with the positive. This allows the symbol to work in any situation, regardless of the specifics of human health.