Exit Sign European ISO 21542 style, with wheelchair symbol and running man

The European Style Wheelchair on Exit Signs

Symbols on exit signs which represent a person using a wheelchair are not a new concept. But as stated above, generally these sign manufacturers simply added the international symbol of access or a wheelchair symbol to their sign and sometimes recolour the background to a green colour.

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.

International symbol of access exit sign with a wheelchair symbol and Japanese style Running Man, on green background. From SO 21542:2011.These designs do not present well, they show the typical Japanese style ‘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. It also fails to address the universal design aspects required under nations that have signed and ratified the UN Conventions on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

The standard shows an example accessible exit sign in Figure 72 of the ISO 21542[1], which can have 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)
  • This is represented in the example above

[1] International Organisation of Standardization 2011, International Standard ISO 21542 Building construction – Accessibility and usability of the built environment, 1st edn, ISO Copyright office, Switzerland, Figure 72, p.109

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Buildings need exit and emergency signs to identify parts of the accessible means of egress. An Accessible Exit Sign Project Initiative.

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