Accessibility Logo Gets New Look for 21st Century

medium-sized access symbol

One of the most recognized symbols world-wide  is the handicap symbol, officially called the The International Symbol of Access (ISA). The symbol, which features a stick figure in a wheelchair with a blue-and-white color scheme, has just been given a make-over for the twenty-first century.

The symbol, designed by Susanne Koefed in 1968 at the request of Rehabilitation International’s International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA),  has been criticized by some as portraying the handicapped as “passive.”

After several years of petitioning for change,  a design team at Gordon College, Massachusetts, decided  to create a new logo that aims to change the logo’s negative connotations.  The new design still maintains the traditional blue and white color scheme  but shows the stick figure leaning forward and active.  The design team hopes that the new creation will spark debate among the design industry and cause a re-evaluation of disability issues.

Alternative Accessibility Logo

Thanks to a group of activists, the revamped logo will soon be rolling out across accessible entry ramps and entries, parking signs,  and bathroom doors in New York City. A number of other disability organizations are also promoting the new logo including The Enabling Unit in Delhi, India. The Accessible Icon Project website has a detailed breakdown here of how the design was put together.

For a history of the International Symbol of Access, visit, History of the Handicapped Symbol and Rehabilitation International: Symbol of Access.



WINAHEAD is made up of representatives from thirty institutions. Our members are professionals employed by two- and four-year colleges and universities who work directly with students with disabilities to ensure equal access to higher education. WIN indicates the geographic area we represent: Western Iowa and Nebraska. AHEAD is our national parent organization, the Association on Higher Education and Disability.
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