Decathlon initiative celebrates the talents of people with physical disabilities
The next time you’re at a Decathlon store, glance down as you’re passing through the parking lot – you may notice that a familiar symbol has a fresh new look. The blue and white images used to mark the accessible parking spots have been redesigned to promote and celebrate sports and the talents of people with physical disabilities.
Called Ability Signs, the new icons introduced in 2021 reimagine the standard wheelchair signage that has been used worldwide since 1968. To promote the possibilities that exist for everyone, Decathlon and Montreal advertising agency Rethink worked together to design the icons so they now include a swimmer, basketball player, soccer player, weight lifter, and other athletes — all representative of Decathlon’s mission to make sports universally accessible.
Having first appeared in Decathlon office parking lots, the signage has spread to retail stores. Marie-Lou Blais, communications director for Decathlon Canada, says the signs can be found in different areas of the stores. “Whether you see them in our bathrooms, fitting rooms, or in our parking lot area, you will see some sort of representation at all 12 stores, and three pop-up/concept locations.”
The icons are intended to help broaden how people with disabilities are seen and were inspired in part by Canada’s 2020 Paralympic team. Blais adds that the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris will have Ability Signs displayed in and around the venues of the games.
“For those who experience life with a disability, we felt inspired to show the world the possibility of what they can do. The International Symbol of Access is shown by one single icon, but the possibilities are so far beyond one symbol. That is why we felt it important to redesign the signs into 25 new symbols of Access,” Blais says.
Ability Signs are available to all under a Creative Commons licence and can be found at abilitysigns.ca