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BSI draft symbol for non-visible disabilities – call for feedback

BSI Draft Pictogram for non-visible disabilities (simply drawn sunflower with heart and cross at centre)

Most people recognize the currently used international symbol of access.It is endorsed by the United Nations, adopted by the Department for Transport in the UK for the blue badge indication for disabled parking and is also used for accessible routes and toilets.

However, the symbol is not fully representative of all the potential users, and many people who rightly need to use accessible toilets, parking spaces, etc. face ill-informed and unpleasant criticism and abuse because they have a disability that is not obvious to other people, often referred to as a ‘hidden’ or ‘non-visible’ disability.

A more inclusive sign is therefore needed. BSI has been collaborating with the Cabinet Office Disability Unit who have supported in identifying a range of existing symbols and schemes. A first draft pictogram (see above) has now been designed, based on the green lanyard scheme which uses a sunflower motif. It allows for people needing assistance to be identified, helping both those who have disabilities and staff who can offer help. The scheme is already operational in many places including airports, banks and supermarkets.

Although the design is conceptual and may need to be learned, there are certain advantages to having a symbol which is not identified by gender. Given the success and increasing support for the green lanyard scheme, and the fact that the sunflower motif can easily meet the BSI/ISO design requirements for public information symbols, a first draft of the symbol (see above) has been designed to identify facilities for all those with disabilities including those which are not obvious to others. Consideration is also being given to comprehension testing in accordance with the international standard ISO 9186-1.

The symbol will be included in the National Annex to BS ISO 7001:2007+A4:2017, Graphical symbols, Public information symbols.

As SDS members working in the wayfinding and sign industry, your views and comments (in addition to those of other stakeholder groups) are currently being sought by The Cabinet Office Disability Unit. It is hoped that by facilitating stakeholder engagement at this stage, safe landing of the new symbol will be supported. Consider:

  • The content and colour of the public information symbol  In the standard, all symbols are reproduced in black on white but for actual use other colours can be used and initial thoughts are that it could be displayed in yellow and black.
  • The title of the symbol  The facilities which are indicated are available to all people with a disability. Possibilities include ‘Any’. ‘Hidden’. ‘Invisible’. ‘Non-visible’ and ‘Unseen’. Existing symbols in BS ISO 7001 come under the general term ‘accessibility’.
  • What guidance should be provided for using the symbol?  (There are existing standards giving guidelines for the use of symbols).

Please send in your comments, on the first draft of the symbol and design, title and guidance issues, to the SDS Administrator Kate, by Thursday 9 April 2020. Your feedback will be collated and sent on to Sophie Erskine, Standards Development Manager at BSI Group by the end of April 2020 deadline.