Stop! The Mystery of the Handicapped Stick Figure Finally Revealed

Your Complete Resource to the Handicapped Access Symbol

How A Stick Figure Became the Sign for Handicapped Access the World Over


All About the Handicapped Access Sign

Words, the alphabet, symbols and religion all have their origin. Latin is usually used for conferring scientific names on biological organisms. The alphabet can be traced way back to the Sumerian civilization. Human history and religion can also be traced and studied, thanks to the historians of times past for keeping records. Now where did that handicapped access symbol come from?

It's name is The International Symbol of Access and is an intellectual property of the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA).

The symbol has gained wide recognition but its visual meaning remains ambiguous. In addition, other industries and organizations use the same symbol that indicates another meaning altogether.

A Danish design student, Susanne Kofoed in a 1969 competition, submitted the symbol. There were objections to the symbol from the jury because of a lack of a head. Once the head was added, critics pointed out that the modifications made were inept.

The symbol has several variations. It can be a white glyph on a dark field with or without a border. The border print is of the same thickness as the symbol print. Generally though, blue has been agreed upon as the correct color for the symbol. In manufacturing terms, the color is specifically PMS 293C.

If used with arrows, the symbol may indicate directions. The guidelines of the ICTA state that "The symbol tells a handicapped person, particularly one using a wheelchair, that a building or facility is accessible and can be entered and used without fear of being blocked by architectural barriers."

The objectives of the symbol were, to quote, "to make an impression on normal able-bodied people. The intention is that normal people should, by being confronted by unambiguous signs, be encouraged to think about the nature and implications of disablement, and should develop a more realistic appreciation of the circumstances of disabled people." This objective has been limited in it's success though.

The ICTA agrees that there should be a universal symbol for the handicapped. Naysayers argue that the current symbol is not the universal symbol. At the core of the argument is the fact that the symbol should be for wheel chair access only.




© wheelchair stick figure