Inclusive & Universal Signage: Misconceptions and Findings

Signage in today's built environment is more than just a means for code-compliance and way-finding; it's about creating a positive, accessible, and easy-to-navigate experience for people of all ages, cultures, and abilities. Through conversations and project work, brandx believes that what you say with signage matters. Universal symbols that are easily learned and remembered help us figure out where we are and give us options for moving through our world safely and efficiently. But many best practices weren't developed with the flexibility to evolve as people and language do, and often only consider the codified extremes, like complete blindness--as to those 65% of us who don't have perfect vision.* As a result, the standard for signage today must not only be to clearly communicate practical information about a place and how to move around within it, but doing so in a way that navigates cultural conversations around identity and ability with respect. This session brings renewed discussion to the gap between the increasing importance and long-term impacts of signage, outdated codes, and the industry's lack of dedicated degree programs to study and explore new best practices around inclusive signage. Leveraging a combined industry experience of over 30 years, panelists will share field findings and key considerations for approaching signage, wayfinding, and brand experience in making spaces more adaptable and inclusive. What are the most universally recognized symbols? What are the most intuitive ways to number rooms? What naming conventions are most inclusive? What backgrounds work best for video-conferencing? The presentation will challenge attendees to investigate today's potential misconceptions around inclusivity and universality, understand where biases may be hiding, and highlight the need for continuing education on these topics--particularly with regards to the ever-changing nature of identity as it relates to restroom icons, room naming, and legibility. 

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