Guest Post via Jesse Brightman // @JesseBrightman
The universal symbol for wheelchair accessibility, handicapped parking, and facilities for people with disabilities is the white human stick figure seated on a wheelchair. This icon, which has been in use since the 1960s, has been redesigned by artist Sara Hendren and placed illegally all around Boston. Her new wheelchair accessibility icon features a new form of the stick figure that is leaning forward as if in a wheelchair race with one arm raised after pushing the chair. The new wheelchair accessibility design has an overall sense of movement, and the artist has been promoting her new image in a street campaign by superimposing her image over the traditional white and blue icon.
As quoted in the Boston Globe, Hendren said of the old accessibility symbol: “The figure is static, wooden, with the squared-off geometry of machinery. The body is synonymous with the chair. It is almost completely unexamined, yet it is a design with human values at stake.’’ Hendren wanted her accessibility symbol to show movement and life to raise awareness of accessibility issues and to humanize individuals who use wheelchairs.
Hendren has been placing transparent stickers of her new dynamic accessibility icon over the old white and blue icon on street signs all over Boston. While the artist could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined for altering street signs, she thinks the risk is worth it to raise awareness about accessibility issues. The original wheelchair accessibility symbol is called the international symbol of access, and it was designed in1968 by artiest Susanne Koefed.