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Rethinking The Universal Wheelchair Icon Of Access And Disability

April 23, 2013

Readers, I’ve just been sent this Facebook page for a new campaign aiming to rethink the universal symbol of disability.

The campaign page says: The wheelchair icon is the worldwide, generic symbol of disability. HOWEVER, the overwhelming majority of icons depict the chair user in rigid, upright mode, compounding stereotypes of inactivity and dependency. It is time for this to change.

As we all know, this is the current universal symbol of access for disabled people:

wheelchair symbol original


And this is what the campaign would like to see it changed to:

wheelchair symbol new

An image of a wheelchair user trying to be more active, pushing the chair for themself.

What a good idea.

Your comments and suggestions very welcome below, on these symbols or any others you may have in mind.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2013 12:02 pm

    Inspiring! The “italitic format” is very effective – even giving the impression of the wheelchair user (driver more like!) silently saying: ‘move out of my way, I’m not stopping’……..

  2. April 24, 2013 10:47 pm

    ‘WC’ on the symbol is likely to end up being misinterpreted as ‘wheelchair’ even if intended to mean ‘toilet’. Part of the universality of the current symbol is that it is independent of not just language, but alphabet, and makes literacy irrelevant to the understanding of its meaning.

  3. April 25, 2013 12:52 pm

    We highlighted this on Independent Living a couple of years ago – had a great positive design contributed by Max Reid, which we adopted as our mobility symbol on the site. If you are interested, you can read more about it here

  4. May 3, 2013 1:24 am

    Disables have their own world. This is not because they do not want to mix with normal people but due to the way they are treated by the normal people. This is not right as these people also have the same right to live a normal life. Adaptive clothing is an important step towards the comfort of these people. It removes difficulties in mobility due to normal clothes and helps them in moving like others.


  1. New York Adopting New Disability Symbol | Same Difference

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