Post-secondary students to revamp wheelchair sign

Sep 20, 2013 | News

By Kiah Welsh

Post-secondary students around the world have the opportunity to redesign the traditional wheelchair symbol.

The contest, Reimagining Accessibility, is supported by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David Onley, and OCAD University.

An instructor at OCAD University involved in the campaign, David Pereyra, said the student competition is designed to come up with a logo that represents a wider variety of disabled people.


Handicapped Accessible sign, made to the specifications of the 2004 edition of Standard Highway Signs. (Courtesy of WikiCommons)

“It has the potential to carry a powerful message globally, however the message is outdated because it represents a small group of people with a disability who use wheelchairs,” said Pereyra. “The proposal is to design a set of symbols depending on different situations of accessibility.”

Lt.-Gov. Onley, said he believes in the power of creativity and imagination of new generations to create an inclusive international symbol.

“So much has changed since 1968: TVs, phones, computers. But the wheelchair symbol has stayed the same,” said Onley in a media release. “I encourage young designers to show off their designs on Twitter using the hashtag #AccessSign.”

Pereyra said once the symbol is chosen there will be a slow but steady transition to using the new logo.

“The director of the inclusive design institute… he’s going to hold an international meeting,” said Pereyra. “The traditional blue symbol with the white chair took years to be international even though it was designed in 1968…but, we’re thinking about the future.”

The winner of the contest will receive a $5,000 prize, and the two runners-up will receive $2500.