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Wheelchair Symbols on Exit Signs

Wheelchair Symbols on Exit Signs

To be completely honest – this is not the first exit sign design to have a symbol representing a person using a wheelchair. There have been some sign manufacturers who have also identified the need for accessible exit signage, but they have simply added the international symbol of access or a wheelchair symbol to their sign and re-colored it.

This is because there are international standards, including the international standard on accessibility (ISO 21542:2011) that actually present this sign as a form of signage to show an accessible exit route. The standard shows an example accessible exit sign in Figure 72 of the standard, which has three components:

  • A directional arrow (from ISO 7010)
  • The ‘Running Man’ (from ISO 7010)
  • A supplementary sign, being the European version of the International Symbol of Access (from ISO 7001)

Confusing Exit Sign with International Symbol of AccessThis is not clear and unambiguous signage. The standard even says that the supplementary sign can be used to show “Full accessibility or toilets – accessible”. The use of the symbol of access could cause confusion and present as a directional arrow to a toilet, as the standard clearly states it can (i.e. the sign could be indicating an accessible toilet, or an accessible egress route).

Wouldn’t it be better to have a recognizable, clear and internationally recognized symbol of accessible egress?  

Why use the symbol of access, for egress? It just doesn’t make sense

Additionally, these designs do not present well, they show the typical ‘Running Man’ moving quickly through an open doorway, whilst the symbol representing a person using the wheelchair remains behind, motionless and potentially in danger… this is not inclusive and not acceptable.

Universal Design

The Accessible Exit Sign Project changes this approach and provides the opportunity to present a fully inclusive design of exit signage, which adopts the principles of universal design.

Accessible Exit Sign Project Running Man Wheelchair Wheelie Man Symbol Accessible Means of Egress Icon Exit Sign 10The Combined ‘Running Man’ and ‘Wheelie Man’are working together to escape the building. They move in unison. They display the same urgency and motion. They appear to be travelling at the same speed. This is an inclusive design.

Buildings need signage to identify the accessible means of egress, including exit paths and exit doors

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