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  • Rob Haywood

Open Sesame? Not Quite. Cracking the Code to Inclusive Safety Signage

Updated: Jan 23

Open Sesame? Not Quite. Cracking the Code to Inclusive Safety Signage



Disabled and baby change male female toilet sign
Disabled and baby change male female toilet sign


Imagine this: A young girl in a wheelchair navigates your bustling cafe, nose twitching at the aroma of freshly baked croissants. Suddenly, the fire alarm blares, sending shivers down spines and scrambling customers. But for her, the panic intensifies. Where's the exit? Are the signs clear enough for her limited vision? Will the path be accessible, or will she be trapped in a maze of confusion?


This isn't just a hypothetical scenario. According to the UK Office for National Statistics, over 13 million people in the UK have a disability, and many rely on clear and consistent signage to navigate their surroundings safely. Yet, all too often, businesses fall short, leaving even the most basic tasks shrouded in frustration and fear.


But fear not, intrepid business owners! Creating an accessible haven isn't a mythical quest; it's a matter of smart signage choices and a dash of empathy. Here's the decoder ring to unlock inclusive safety:


Think beyond braille: Braille is crucial, but it's only one piece of the puzzle. A 2020 study by the Royal National Institute of Blind People found that over 70% of visually impaired individuals rely on tactile cues and contrasting colours to navigate. Think raised lettering, textured surfaces for different paths, and high-contrast colour combinations that pop even in low light.


Mind the gap (and the glare): Doorways and thresholds become impassable fortresses for wheelchair users and those with mobility issues. Ensure clear signage indicates accessible routes, and remember, glare from reflective surfaces can turn a helpful sign into a blinding obstacle. Opt for matte finishes or strategically placed lighting to combat this.


Deaf to the siren song? Not anymore: Remember the fire alarm example? For those with hearing impairments, it's a silent symphony of confusion. Visual alarms – flashing lights or vibrating pads – are crucial allies, while clear pictograms on exit signs can bridge the communication gap.


Small details, big impact: Don't underestimate the power of a thoughtfully placed handrail or lowered counter. These seemingly minor adjustments can be the difference between independent access and needing to ask for help, preserving dignity and fostering a sense of belonging.


Creating an accessible environment isn't just about ticking boxes; it's about building a space where everyone feels welcome and safe. At The Sign Shed, we understand the power of inclusive signage. We'll help you decipher the regulations, choose the right signs, and craft a welcoming space for all. Remember, a small investment in inclusive design can reap big rewards in customer loyalty and peace of mind. So, are you ready to unlock the door to a truly accessible future?

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