189. Revised ADA Symbol.
Aug 20, 2008 at 10:21AM

Perhaps one of the most simple and elegant demonstrations of good design vs. bad: take a look at the redesigned Americans with Disabilities Act symbol by Brendan Murphy. You couldn’t ask for a more powerful statement on the importance of design, and it comes from 1994. So 14 years later and all I see is the old pathetic-looking ‘handicap’ logo, which is a real shame. The revised mark gives dignity and energy to this population, and the design obviously shows respect to its audience. Mass implementation should have followed, as the old mark is bordering on offensive, but obviously that has not been the case. (I believe Brendan Murphy may be the Brendan Murphy from Lipponcott fame, but I am not sure. And the document linked to below appears to have been in collaboration with the SEGD, the Society for Environmental Graphic Design.)

The design is good. The negative space alludes to the chair, which is really nice. I do have a little issue with the areas where the wheels end and the person begins – they don’t quite match the other angles and shapes – but it’s a huge step forward. The rationale included in the pdf, however, is spectacular. This proves that not only is the design important, but also how it is presented.

So we have a good design. A great rationale. But very sporadic implementation; even government documents feature the old identity system. So this may be an example of how a designer may need to partner up with agencies or non-profits or other entities in order for the design to be successful. Even when a design is clearly superior, we may need to assemble a coalition of supporters to change the status quo. 

Anyone have any more information on this?


Article originally appeared on Graphicology (http://www.graphicology.com/).
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