The Accessible Icon Project

Alex Walker’s article about the newly designed pictogram for the disabled is well-intentioned, seeking to show empowerment of the disabled person. Unfortunately, this new pictogram it falls into the design trap of incomprehensibility.

It is the first and overarching duty of any pictograph to be immediately understood. And I would not know what in the world this means, without being told: and even then, it is really rather hard to recognize. This is a “fail” in my book, sorry.

Do you have a link to the article?

@cpradio, it’s from the SitePoint design newsletter. I don’t know if there’s a permanent link, but thhe project link is:

The first I saw of the icon was in this topic, and my instant thought was “wheelchair rugby”. (Brilliant game, if you’ve never seen it.)

However, I’m pretty sure if I saw it in context I would understand it to mean “accessible”.


I thought of wheelchair basketball (have never seen wheelchair rugby).

I don’t see this as accessible. I see it as a sports metaphor, but not accessible.

Plus the proportions on that image drives me nuts - the arms are thicker than the legs, and for some reason, the thing looks like a drunken bird.

And now I officially feel bad, because I immediately thought “wheelchair racing” (or runaway wheelchair – think going down a hill)… :scream:


Only reason I didn’t think of that was the wheelchairs for racing usually have that third wheel out front. I’ve always been impressed with that sport - the strength and control amazes me.

Well, yes - high-speed wheelchair was what it made me think of, but that’s associated in my mind with wheelchair rugby, so we’re on the same lines.

“Accessible at high speed”, perhaps?

I think he needs to add a sign in the background that says: Men’s Restroom ==>


Seems like the guy is in a hurry…

There’s one here:

The new wheelchair pictogram looks like me struggling to get off those big exercise balls they recommend you use at your desk these days. Just sayin’ …

:smile: Excellent

I agree with the rest, as far as redesign goes, this missed the mark by a lot. Not only does it look ridiculous, but I can see people complaining and wanting to redesign other aspects of it almost immediately because their particular subgroup is now no longer represented by the icon.

Some good points all round. I somewhat agree it’s not entirely successful as a graphic. They may have over-emphasized the motion.

I do however like the core idea of the people who are labelled by the pictogram having a say in how they are represented – even if they were farmers, or fisherman or police.

As an example, a senior citizen might not think this pictogram represents them well. Does it work as a design? Sure. Would seniors feel comfortable displaying it on their car? Maybe not so much.


I thought the guy just had some constipation.

If you’re talking about the first icon…ouch :scream:

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