Improving and analyzing signage within a healthcare setting

J. B. Rousek, M. S. Hallbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Healthcare facilities are increasingly utilizing pictograms rather than text signs to help direct people. The purpose of this study was to analyze a wide variety of standardized healthcare pictograms and the effects of color contrasts and complexity for participants with both normal and impaired vision. Fifty (25 males, 25 females) participants completed a signage recognition questionnaire and identified pictograms while wearing vision simulators to represent specific visual impairment. The study showed that certain color contrasts, complexities and orientations can help or hinder comprehension of signage for people with and without visual impairment. High contrast signage with consistent pictograms involving human figures (not too detailed or too abstract) is most identifiable. Standardization of healthcare signage is recommended to speed up and aid the cognitive thought process in detecting signage and determining meaning. These fundamental signage principles are critical in producing an efficient, universal wayfinding system for healthcare facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)771-784
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Color contrast
  • Healthcare
  • Pictograms
  • Signage
  • Visual impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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