Every so often I ask the readers of iDigHardware to weigh in on what you are seeing in your state or local jurisdiction.  Today I need your help on the topic of accessibility symbols – please share your insight in the comments.

The question is this:

In your jurisdiction, which of the following applies to actuators for automatic operators?

  • The International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) is required on the actuator

  • The Dynamic Symbol of Accessibility (DSA) is required on the actuator

  • Either symbol may be used on the actuator

  • A custom symbol may be used on the actuator

  • No accessibility symbol is required on actuators

If you are not familiar with the two most common symbols of accessibility, the ISA has been around since at least the 1960’s, and is the symbol that is currently referenced in the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.  About 10 years ago, a movement began to update the symbol to the Dynamic Symbol of Accessibility (DSA), which places more emphasis on the person than on the wheelchair, and shows movement, a symbolic action that reframes the way society views and interacts with people with disabilities.

Some states and local jurisdictions have already passed laws changing required signage from the ISA to the DSA – you can read more about that in my past post from 2017.

The ADA Standards for Accessible Design require the ISA to be posted in certain locations, including:

  • Portable toilet units and bathing units that comply with 603 (213.2(3))
  • Entrances that comply with 404 – in facilities where not all entrances are compliant (216.6)
  • Elevators that comply with 407 – in facilities where not all elevators are compliant (216.7)
  • Toilet rooms and bathing rooms that comply with 603 – in facilities where not all of the rooms are compliant (216.8)
  • Check-out aisles complying with 904.3 (216.11)
  • Parking space identification signs (502.6)

I checked in with the US Access Board last week, to see if there had been any changes affecting these symbols.  In locations where the ADA standards require the ISA (a parking sign, for example), equivalent facilitation would be required in order to use the DSA instead of the ISA.  This requires a waiver from the agency implementing the standards.  For example, the State of New York has passed a law requiring the dynamic symbol instead of the ISA:

Accessibility Legislation A.8193 and S.6846:  Requires the office of temporary and disability assistance to promulgate any rules and regulations necessary to remove the word handicapped from any signs or means of communication where such word appears; further requires that anywhere where it is required that the current universal symbol of access of figure in a wheelchair appear that such signage instead depict a logo with a dynamic character leaning forward with a sense of movement; applies only to new signs.

The New York law requires the DSA, but the law is specific to signage.  The ADA standards require the ISA in certain locations, but actuators for automatic operators are not one of the locations referenced in the standard.  Are either of these symbols required on actuators?  I looked into this a couple of years ago when many actuators were changed to touchless switches that did not have an accessibility symbol – that post is here.  The only state code I found that requires a specific symbol (the ISA) on actuators is California.

I double-checked with the US Access Board, and confirmed that if an accessibility symbol is not required by the ADA standards in a particular location – like an actuator – any symbol (or no symbol) may be used in that application.

What are you seeing locally?  Are actuators for automatic operators required to have the ISA, the DSA, either symbol, or no symbol?  Or could a “custom” symbol be used?


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