The use of Accessible Exit Sign Project designs

Accessible Exit Sign Project Exit Door SignI had a really good question sent to me on LinkedIn today, the LinkedIn user commented they were unsure if building inspectors in the United States would accept the Accessible Means of Egress icon on exit signs, and asked if they are acceptable in my home country (Australia). Here’s my response:

“Thanks for your comment and question. The signs will be available in the US very shortly, we’ve just signed up our first licensed partner to the Accessible Exit Sign Project (and are accepting other partners now too).

The design is being offered as a variation from the ISO 7010 / ISO 21542 example and is considered to be a more inclusive design. We do however acknowledge that when using any design solution that varies from a specific countries building code or technical standards it must be approved by the relevant authority. However, many countries now have ‘performance-based’ building codes and facilities are getting more and more reliant on fire engineering to satisfy building code requirements – this could be one of those areas that is considered. We are confident that the inclusion of the new recognizable Icon will benefit any exit sign strategy.

We also acknowledge that this may take some time for adoption, given there is still some parts of the world debating whether to use the “EXIT” word on exit signs or the Running Man design (Australia changed over in 2005). But regardless, the use of the new Icon could also be used to complement the design of locally required signs, and this is certainly the case with the Australian Braille and tactile exit door sign, which has the Icon above the required words in Braille and tactile characters (see my profile photo for an example).

Australia and New Zealand have performance-based building codes and these signs are now on the market which can be adopted as part of an ‘Alternative Solution’.

The following is an extract from a fact-sheet on the topic:

“An ‘Alternative Solution’ has been defined as a building solution which complies with the Performance Requirements other than by satisfying the ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ provisions.
The Australian Building Codes Board has been quoted as stating that the use of a performance-based approach to compliance “provides practitioners with a strong degree of flexibility to determine the most appropriate means for demonstrating compliance with the relevant Performance Requirements”. This therefore allows some level of creativity in how compliance (or a compliant building solution) can be achieved.

A performance-based approach could be extended with the use of enhanced exit signs under a fire engineered solution. Such a solution could be used to show an accessible means of egress to a safe place outside the building, a safe refuge within the building or the locations of evacuation lifts (or elevators).

This approach has to be a better solution that what would be provided under a ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ design solution.”

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