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Introduction

The International Symbol of Access (ISA), also known as the (International) Wheelchair Symbol, consists of a blue square overlaid in white with a stylized image of a wheelchair. It is maintained as an international standard, ISO 7001 image of the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA).

The symbol is often seen where access has been improved, particularly for wheelchair users, but also for other disability issues. Frequently, the symbol shows the removal of environmental barriers, such as steps, to help the disabled, elderly, parents with baby carriages, and travellers. Universal design aims to obviate such symbols by creating products and facilities that are accessible to nearly all users from the start. The wheelchair symbol is "International" and therefore not accompanied by Braille in any particular language.

Specific uses of the ISA include:

  • Marking a parking space reserved for vehicles used by people with disabilities/blue badge holders
  • Marking a vehicle used by a person with a disability, often for permission to use a space
  • Marking a public lavatory with facilities designed for wheelchair users
  • Indicating a button to activate an automatic door
  • Indicating an accessible transit station or vehicle
  • Indicating a transit route that uses accessible vehicles

The South African National Standard for Building Regulations

Providing clear and visible marking by using this accessible disabled sign is essential in making facilities visible for those who need them. The South African Government through The South African National Standard for Building Regulations therefore makes laws that insure that new buildings are designed & built with certain regulations, which includes regulations on Signage.

Facilities that are included in a building specifically for use by persons with disabilities, such as wheelchair-accessible parking spaces, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and platform or stair lifts, shall be indicated by the international symbol for access.

Unfortunately many buildings in South Africa still do not have adequate signage, the owners of these buildings and houses may therefore need advice from Organizations and Companies that specialize in Universal Design and Access. There are various Organizations and Companies that can assist with Universal Design and Access to make sure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from any events, services, information, communication, products and venues. 

Organizations & Companies That Can Assist With Universal Design & Access

There are now various Organizations and Companies that specialize in Universal Design and Access and can advise you on how to include compliant signage to make sure that persons with disabilities have equal rights and no loss of dignity. The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA), Bradshaw LeRoux Consulting and Tri Access specialize in Universal Design and Access to make sure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from any events, services, information, communication, products and venues. These Organizations and Companies can assist in different ways including:NCPD Logo

The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD): believe that this can be prevented by applying Universal Design Principals during the design phase and they therefor offer the following services to assist:

  • Workshops for architects, developers and other building professionals to develop an understanding of universal design and access.
  • Facilitating access audits for new or existing buildings; echo e-access for the natural and communication environment. Audits are followed by a report indicating shortfalls and recommendations.
  • Marketing of facilities that are accessible to persons with disabilities

Contact Fanie Swanepoel or Danie Marais for more information on Tel: +27 11 452 2774 or email them on: fanies@ncpd.org.za or danie@ncpd.org.za

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The QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA): (QASA) is a non-profit organisation (NPO 000-881) of Quadriplegics and Paraplegics living in South Africa. QASA’s mission is to be an effective “co-ordinating, policy-making and supporting organisation striving to prevent spinal cord injury and to improve the lives of quadriplegics and paraplegics by securing resources to advocate, educate, capacitate, support and mobilise.”QuadPara Association of South Africa

QASA runs a number of Projects and Services and can assist with various issues relating to Universal Design & Access. The National Access Authority (NAA) provides a policing and advisory service for access issues and deals with access complaints and transgressions of the National Building Regulations. By promoting an accessible environment and taking to task, abuse of human rights, this project has ensured more accessible environments and promoted the concept of Universal design.

QASA is sustained by strategic relationships with corporates, social enterprise, the National Lottery Commission and a number of campaigns & events. Some of QASA’s projects generate revenue which services the essential non-revenue generating projects. Click on the link below to find out more about the Universal Design & Access services that they provide, or visit our Organizations - QASA Page to find out more about QASA & the other Projects & Services that they provide. You can also contact them through their website at www.qasa.co.za or read the article below to find out about Accessible Features & the other companies in South Africa that can assist you.

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Tri Access: Tri Access Consultants was founded in 2018 by Igor Rix who, from of a personal encounter, developed a passion for breaking down the barriers to access. This is enabled by providing assessments and audits on legal accessibility compliance pertaining to premises and the built environment and promoting "Good Access is Good Business".
Igor Rix, is an Access Consultant and has studied a Diploma course in Access Consultancy at the Access Institute in Melbourne, Australia and also completed a course in Universal Design: Public Transportation via the Buffalo University, New York.

 “Accessibility is a basic human need and we all have a constitutional right and privilege to participate in all of life’s experiences in some unique way or another and should therefore have barrier free access to enjoy easier, friendlier and healthier environments.” - Igor G. RixTri Access Flyer

Contact Tri Access to do an access audit or review to ensure that your premises are accessible to all. Access Audits involves inspecting the built environment to determine compliance with legislation to enable access that is easier, friendlier & healthier to use by everyone. Our Access Consultants conducts audits & provides solutions when businesses & individuals take a proactive step to become legally compliant or being compelled by law and or society to be compliant.

You can contact Igor Rix on: +2783 703 0707, Email: igor@triaccess.co.za or visit their web site: www.triaccess.co.za

These Organizations and Companies listed above which specialize in Universal Design and Access will follow those standards set by "The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act" to make sure that all signage is accessible to persons with disabilities.

Signage Regulations

4.2 Signage

4.2.1 Facilities that are included in a building specifically for use by persons with disabilities, such as wheelchair-accessible parking spaces, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and platform or stair lifts, shall be indicated by the international symbol for access (see figure 1) and shall comply with 4.2.2 and 4.2.4. The international symbol shall be exhibited

  1. at the main entrance of, and at any other suitable position in, a building, and
  2. in suitable positions to indicate to persons with disabilities the route to the exit of such facilities.

4.2.2 The sign used to indicate facilities provided for persons with disabilities shall be the SANS 1186-1 type designation GA 22 (allocated to or accessible to wheelchairs) sign. Such signage shall comply with the requirements of SANS 1186-1 and shall have a symbol height of not less than 110 mm.

4.2.3 Facilities that are not in accordance with the requirements of this part of SANS 10400 shall not bear the international symbol.

NOTE 1: The symbol is the property of the International Standards Office and its use can only be sanctioned where the minimum requirements of the National Building Regulations have been complied with.

NOTE 2: Signs should be in clear, visible and tactile format to ensure that persons with visual impairments are also fully informed. In buildings where persons with visual impairments work or live, evacuation instructions in large print and Braille should be provided, so that persons with visual impairments can familiarize themselves with escape routes.

4.2.4 Clear legible signs shall indicate the direction and name of an accessible facility and shall incorporate the international symbol. The height of the lettering shall not be less than 50 mm.

Where the viewing distance is greater than 10 m, the height of the lettering shall be increased accordingly (see table 1).

Table 1 — Height of lettering in relation to viewing distance

Viewing distance meters Height mm
25  80
30  100
40  140
 50  160

To enable persons with impaired vision to read location signs adjacent to doors or directional signs on walls, the signs should be placed at a height of between 1,4 m and 1,7 m above finished floor level.

NOTE Raised letters and symbols, in contrasting light and dark colours, on identification or location signs assist those who are blind or have impaired vision.

All internal signage to indicate escape routes in case of total blackout shall comply with the requirements of SANS 10400-T.

4.2.5 For demarcating parking areas for wheelchair users, signs should be not less than 2,0 m vertically above driveway level, so that the sign can be seen whilst driving a car.

4.2.6 Where electronic aids are installed to assist persons with hearing loss, a suitable sign shall be displayed to indicate such facilities.

4.2.7 Any mark or sign shall comply with the relevant requirements of SANS 1186-1.

Links

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References

Silver Level Advert
Tri Access
National Council of & for Persons with Disabilities
QuadPara Association of South Africa

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