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In everyday speech, people often still say handicapped, even if the correct word is disabled. This is reflected in sign names, as many people say handicapped signs. However, the correct term is disabled sign. Whatever the name, the signs are aimed at people with a disability, primarily those who use a wheelchair.
The most common function of a disabled sign is to show where something is adapted for wheelchair users. This may be a toilet or parking spaces, for instance.
In public spaces, there is always a toilet for wheelchair users. These toilets feature a wider door, support bars near the toilet and alert buttons. They are clearly marked with a sign depicting a person in a wheelchair. If a shower is available, that too is shown on the sign.
The sign with a blue background and a white silhouette of a person sitting in a wheelchair clearly marks parking spaces intended for disabled people. Colloquially, this is known as handicapped parking.
If there are steps up to an entrance, a disabled sign can be used to indicate the location of an entrance with a ramp. Sometimes a sign can also contain information that a temporary ramp is available if personnel are alerted.
There are also ramp signs that highlight jetties specially constructed to help wheelchair users bathe. These ramps are found at holiday resorts and indicate a jetty with a gentle slope down to the water.
This category also includes disabled signs specially designed to draw attention to an emergency exit – quite simply escape routes without stairs.