The use of the ‘Accessible Means of Egress Icon’ makes it very clear to determine where accessible exits or components of an accessible means of egress are provided. Signage could direct building occupants to an exit door leading to an area of safety outside the building, an exit door on a path to a safe refuge area, or an emergency evacuation lift.
The current design of signs used around the world do not make this clear. There is a recent trend to use the International Symbol of Access on the same sign with the words “EXIT” or the Running Man image. This does not present well and gives the impression of the person in the wheelchair being left behind whilst the Running Man escapes through the exit door. Interestingly, the international standard on accessibility (ISO 21542:2011) actually presents this as a form of signage to show an accessible exit route. The standard shows an example accessible exit sign in Figure 72 of the standard, which has three components:
- A directional arrow (from ISO 7010)
- The ‘Running Man’ (from ISO 7010)
- A supplementary sign, being the European version of the International Symbol of Access (from ISO 7001)
This is not clear signage for people to understand, it could be confusing and ambiguous, especially for those visitors to the country or those believing the sign leads to an accessible toilet. The standard even says that the supplementary sign can be used to show “Full accessibility or toilets – accessible”. The use of the symbol of access could cause confusion and present as a directional arrow to a toilet, as the standard clearly states it can (i.e. the sign could be indicating an accessible toilet, or an accessible egress route).
The use of the ‘Accessible Means of Egress Icon’ changes this discriminatory and confusing approach. The use of the icon allows people to know how to get out of a building, it is a positive step to providing equitable egress solutions.
The use of a ‘Accessible Means of Egress Icon’ or ‘Wheelie Man’ on exit signs to identify:
- Exit Doors by providing an illuminated sign, with in-built emergency lighting over each exit door, or to direct you to a required exit door.
- Exit Doors by placing a sign on the wall adjacent to any required Exit Door, at an accessible height.
- Emergency Evacuation Lifts, by providing a sign adjacent to the lift, at an accessible height.
- Refuge Areas (or Refuge Points) within fire protected compartments of the building, where people requiring assistance can move to, then be evacuation down (or up) the fire stairs with the use of an Emergency Evacuation Chair. From this safe area, they can then move to a safe area outside the building. These should be provided at an accessible height, with communication systems.
- Emergency Evacuation Chairs within Refuge Areas (i.e. on enlarged fire stair landings).
- Paths of travel from accessible exits leading to a Safe Area or Assembly Area outside the building.