Chico State adopts new accessibility icon

Designed in 1984, the original International Symbol of Access has now been redesigned, and Chico State is one of the first California State Universities to implement the new icon.

Charlene Corder, advisor of the Accessibility Resource Center, pushed for the icon change on campus. The intent in changing the symbol is to transition from the perception that people with disabilities are impacted negatively, Corder said.

“Looking at the old icon, it really emphasizes the disability, not the person,” Corder said. “Instead of focusing on the disability, we focus on how we can give them access.”

The effort to change the old icon was spearheaded by the Accessible Icon Project, a movement that focuses on transforming the original International Symbol of Access into a more active and engaged image.

So far, the new icon can be seen in the Student Health Center and in a few restrooms on campus. The Accessibility Resource Center will continue to put up more of the new signs as the older ones need replacement. The new signs will also be in the new arts and humanities building.


The Icon Graphic Elements

A diagram of the accessible icon image with numbers referring to explanatory notes on this page

Head Position


Head is forward to indicate the forward motion of the person through space. Here the person is the “driver” or decision maker about her mobility.

Arm Angle


Arm is pointing backward to suggest the dynamic mobility of a chair user, regardless of whether or not she uses her arms. Depicting the body in motion represents the symbolically active status of navigating the world.

Wheel Cutouts


By including white angled knockouts the symbol presents the wheel as being in motion. These knockouts also work for creating stencils used in spray paint application of the icon. Having just one version of the logo keeps things more consistent and allows viewers to more clearly understand intended message.

Limb Rendition


The human depiction in this icon is consistent with other body representations found in the ISO 7001 – DOT Pictograms. Using a different portrayal of the human body would clash with these established and widely used icons and could lead to confusion.

Leg Position


The leg has been moved forward to allow for more space between it and the wheel, which allows for better readability and cleaner application of icon as a stencil.

Michael Arias can be reached at [email protected] or @mikey_arias on Twitter.