A winner has been selected in the recently announced competition to create a new international symbol of accessibility, organized by the International Union of Architects (UIA) in collaboration with Rehabilitation International (RI).
Jurors met virtually on April 11th to select the best designs out of a pool of 355 anonymous entries from across the world along lines of graphic quality, symbolism, and communicative effectiveness. A press release from the organization mentioned that they were “impressed by the serious and sensitive consideration toward people living with disabilities,” and that the “abstract, simple, easily replicable and recognizable winning designs suggested a fullness, not absence.”
Ukrainian architect Maksym Holovko was the eventual winner. The jury mentioned his design as being “easily recognizable, demonstrating the originality of form while indicating an openness, simply and powerfully conveyed using basic shapes and principles.”
Holovko was followed by German architect and graphic designer Lena Seifert, whose four-way design, the jury says, was “indicative of equality and inclusivity.” A third-place prize was awarded to an entry from Czech student Barbora Tučanová, who created an “enveloping and simple design with some reflection of the original wheelchair symbol.”
Three honorable mention titles were awarded as well. The winning entries will now be submitted to the ISO/TC 145 committee’s Graphical Symbols Work Group for further consideration and implementation. Cash awards totaling $5,000, $2,500, and $1,500 were given to each winner respectively. A $500 award was given to the Honorable Mention entries as well.
Scroll down to see more information about the winners and their design proposals.
FIRST PLACE: Maksym Holovko
Description excerpt: First of all, the new accessible symbol in any case should not show a person. There are a lot of other signs that required to show a person of different age or sex, and it’s became too complicated when you need to show that some object is accessible for example child with disabilities.
During the conversations with people with disabilities, it became clear that no-one really know all the posibble disabilities that people could have. That’s why people are not always clearly understood symbols of different disabilities. Also we will always have the problem to iconized all possible disabilities that people could have. That’s why the sign should not also indicate a concrete disability of a person.
So It is important that new accessible icon will show that the building is available to the needs of all different people at once and not to separate them by their disabilities.
SECOND PLACE: Lena Seifert
Description excerpt: The focus of the new accessibility symbol is the inclusion of all people, independent if they have any restrictions or not. It also symbolizes social cohesion achieved through acceptance of diversity, social relationships, and strong connectedness. Furthermore, not one specific disability is addressed, as likewise to the established symbol. Therefore I aimed to create a symbol that stands for everyone without addressing something specific. Additionally, the symbols should be easy to understand for everyone independently from their culture, language, or nation. For me, it was essential, that everyone around the world can understand and interpret the symbol by just looking at it. The explanation for example in public transport can create uncertainty for everyone and will lead to a symbol that will not be acceptant by everyone around the globe.
The symbol is based on two major components. In the middle of the symbol, I placed the letter „x“. It represents the diversity of all people and their various restrictions. In addition to diversity, however, the letter „x“ at the same time includes the entire crowd. For me, the letter „x“ also stands for diversity independent from gender, ethnic background, and culture. On the outside of the „x“, I placed circles around. Every circle is imaging one person, which symbols in total four people in the image. Visually, the four bodies of the people merge into one „x“. This fusion is representative of social cohesion and trusting relationships with each other. This underlines the strong inclusion background of the symbol. Looking at the individual shapes of the symbol, you can see that the symbol is composed of circles and lines with rounded corners. Since, in contrast to angular elements, a swinging rather than a static effect is created, mobility and agility are thus signaled once again. The circles as a form in itself have neither a beginning nor an end. Therefore, the circle symbolizes infinity, connection, and protection. The outer shape of the symbol forms a square, which stands for strength and security.
THIRD PLACE: Barbora Tučanová
Description: The design of the new accessibility symbol is based on the original wheelchair symbol, so that the same circular section as the wheelchair wheel is used in the design. This slice is then duplicated, reduced, and diagonally mirrored so that these shapes create a bounded space. Its shape and definition can symbolize the internal and external environment. The motif of the circle that is used also refers to the commonality of human society, reciprocity, support, tolerance. Two basically the same, but differently sized shapes in the pictogram show the difference and similarity of each of us. The green color, which is used in the color version of the symbol, is supposed to evoke the peace, life and, above all, the hope that each of us needs in our lives, whether or not he or she is handicapped. The theme of the new international symbol of accessibility was assigned to us as an interesting project for one hour of the Art Design course. Unfortunately, for this reason, none of the people who should be affected by this symbol have been consulted on the proposal.
During the design, I relied mainly on my own experience gained during the study of architecture, which included several workshops on accessibility and design for various groups of disabled people.
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