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Welcome to Signs That Work!



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Signs That Work (STW) is dedicated to easy to use signage for health facilities. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, STW studied the communicative potential of graphic symbols and tested symbols as part of wayfinding programs for linguistically diverse visitors. Here you can learn about two phases of research and implementation trials and see how innovator health facilities incorporated symbols in best practice signage programs.

Universal Symbols for Health Care

The United States is nearly as linguistically diverse now as in the early 1900's. Not surprizing, federal and many state laws require health organizations to post signage in the languages spoken in their service area. This website offers health organizations a new and innovative solution to help diverse populations navigate health facilities. Wayfinding research in a variety of health facilities tells us visitors unable to speak English (and those unable to read or with vision challenges) find universal health care symbols helpful.

Go to Best Practices to see how health facilities successfully meet the wayfinding needs of patients that speak dozens of different languages with signage using tested graphic symbols. Best Practices is for health managers and graphic designers interested in learning about using graphic symbols for wayfinding programs in health facilities and environment serving linguistically diverse populations.

What do we mean by wayfinding?

Wayfinding is the method for providing consistent information in overt and obvious ways, to guide a person to their destination. This information can include maps and signs; overt clues in the architecture and interior design of a facility; or though the use of color, pattern and texture. Advanced wayfinding systems can also be effective information systems that support organizational identity and branding strategies.

Where to Start?

About Symbols - go here learn about research conducted and the consortium of design schools that helped develop the universal health care symbols.
Using Symbols – go here if you are ready to use symbols and want to download symbol art and implementation workbooks.
Best Practices – learn about implementation of symbols based signage in four innovator health facilities and see before and after photo gallery.

This work is a joint project of Hablamos Juntos and the Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD), funded by the Pioneer team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Please visit our Project’s Who’s Who section for more about the participants.