In American history, few regulations have impacted business like those contained in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title III of the ADA regulates access to buildings and parking lots for people with disabilities to create access and prevent unintended discrimination. The regulations contained within title III cover things like entrances, ramps and parking spaces. The regulations in title III of the ADA also cover the familiar handicap signs that accompany accessible entrances, ramps and parking spaces. This article will cover some highlighted regulations from title III of the ADA, as well as a little information on the famous symbol emblazoned up handicap signs and handicap parking signs around the world.


According to the Department of Justice (n.d.), there must be an accessible route connecting handicapped parking spaces to accessible building entrances. If the private entity that owns the building is not in charge of the parking, then it is not necessary for them to comply, although the technical manual of the ADA encourages making the request to the appropriate governing body.

The number of necessary handicap spaces in a parking lot depends on a number of things. For instance, a parking lot with 100 spaces needs four handicap spaces, which is obviously only 4 percent. If the building is a medical care facility, where people may stay more than 24 hours, or where emergencies are handled, then 10 percent of the parking spaces need to be handicap, no matter the total number. Furthermore, if the building is a medical rehab facility that specializes in treating people with impaired mobility, then a full 20 percent of the parking spots must be handicapped.

Anyone who has ever wondered why icons like “low beam” and “windshield wiper” always look the same in every car should only look to ISO 7001 for explanation. Additional to the many well-known symbols contained within that standard is the International Symbol of Access (ISA) that emblazons handicap parking signs around the world. The ISA on handicap signs is the familiar white stick figure in a wheelchair, usually on a blue background. While the ADA may be an American law, the symbol used on handicap parking signs is international. In fact, the ISA is standardized by the International Standards Organization under the ISO 7001 standard.

The ISA isn’t only used for handicap parking spaces either; to comply with the ADA, they must also appear at passenger loading zones, accessible entrances and restrooms, if not every aforementioned area in a particular area is accessible.

The ISA is actually a copyrighted image. The copyright is held by the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility. The image was originally designed in 1968 by Susanne Koefoed, but according to Wikipedia, it was Karl Montan who made the final modification of giving the figure a head to make it the symbol known today. Now, handicap signs and handicap parking spaces everywhere display the symbol.

The ADA itself is not the only bit deserving of praise for raising the level of accessibility in the United States. Although the ADA is a law and it’s enforced by penalties, the cooperation of businesses across the country has helped the disabled, and proved that government and business can combine to make the world a better place.


(N.D.). “International Symbol of Access.” Wikipedia. Retrieved from

(N.D.). “Americans with Disabilities Act: ADA Title III Technical Assistance Manual Covering Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities.” Department of Justice. Retrieved from

(2013). “The International Language of ISO Graphical Symbols.” International Standards Organization. Retrieved from