Contact Us

"*" indicates required fields

Koefoed & the International Symbol of Access

Honoring Women’s History Month
Special Thanks to Poblocki Sign Company for Sharing this Story
Image Copyright: ©Sahva Fonden/John Olsen/1992

The International Symbol of Access (the wheelchair symbol) is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world – that’s a major accomplishment in both design and function.  It denotes the ease of navigation through environmental barriers (such as ramps replacing steps) and represents inclusion for those with disabilities.  To this day, it is the only symbol that the International Building Code will accept for its purpose.  The sign, graphics and visual communications industry uses this symbol daily in creating signage.

This symbol was designed by Susanne Koefoed, a Danish design student at the time.  Her version of this symbol was first presented in a 1968 competition sponsored by Rehabilitation International and the International Standards Organization when seeking to create a sign symbol to mark barrier-free accommodations.  This icon was widely promoted around Sweden and worked its way through Europe.  The symbol took off in 1974, when the United Nations approved it as a key component of barrier-free design.  In 1990 when the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was signed into law, it became the official icon in the United States.  It’s now an international symbol of access that can be seen in parking lots, businesses, restrooms, transit lines, parks, and many other places around the globe. Well done, Susanne!