Lee Wilson recently undertook extensive research whilst developing a guide to assist workplaces manage their obligations to provide a safe work environment. The guide also helps to identify strategies to increase safe egress for people with disabilities, or with other emergent limitations during an emergency. During this research, it was found that an accessible means of egress are not always mandated, including in our home country Australia.
To further impede safe egress for people with disabilities, when an accessible means of egress is provided within a building, it may not be easily identified with appropriate exit signage.
In most countries there is currently no legislated requirement to distinguish between accessible exits, and other exits that have barriers (such as stairs). This is an obvious ‘gap’ in legislation where an accessible means of egress is not always provided and not identifiable.
The design for the Accessible Means of Egress Icon was created late one night, whilst working on our computers and surrounded by research papers, piles of books, and scraps of papers with notations when an idea came.
From this idea, we developed an initial accessible exit sign design with the ‘Running Man‘ and a pictogram figure using a wheelchair, based on the ISO 7001 principles and in a complementary design to ISO 7010. This was quickly developed into the current design.
The use of accessible exit signs, adopting the Accessible Means of Egress Icon as an international standard would help address and close this gap.