Symbols are created as an abstract way to comprehend something that is based on life experiences. Much of what humans need to comprehend are gestalts (i.e., psychological perceptions) rather than discrete items. For example, “museum” is a discrete item, a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored or exhibited. However, the word “museum” also represents a gestalt of concrete and abstract items and ideas: entertainment, history, paintings, sculptures, exhibits, modern art, galleries, archives, fossils, etc. Thus, even when there is a specific meaning for a word, it changes according to who is using it in what context. By defining meaning and creating commonplace, easily identifiable pictograms for public information graphical symbols, ISO 7001:2023—Graphical Symbols – Registered Public Information Symbols aids the general public’s understanding in public facilities.
Why Are Graphical Symbols Important?
Graphical symbols are used when text messages may be a barrier to general public understanding. Continued growth in international trade, travel, and tourism requires a common method of communication. Standardization of public information symbols helps both providers and users, including those with disabilities. On the other hand, the lack of standardization has the potential to lead to confusion.
What Are ISO Symbols?
ISO 7001:2023 specifies various public information symbols for public facilities, such as:
- An antique building with columns viewed from the side. Base, four columns, triangular roof: to indicate the location of a museum
- Lower-case block letter i: to indicate where information is to be obtained
- Frontal view of standing male and female human figures: to indicate the location of a public toilet for males or females
- Tap above glass containing water indicated by wavy lines: to signify drinkable tap water
- Human figure at representation of desk or counter greeting another human figure: to indicate the location of check-in or reception facility
- Hand holding ticket being inserted into machine: to indicate the location of ticket validation facility
- Bag in outline rectangle with key inserted in gap: to indicate the location of lockers for the temporary storage of baggage
- Side view of telephone receiver: to indicate the location of public telephone facilities
The ISO 7001:2023 Standard for Graphical Symbols
ISO 7001:2023 specifies graphical symbols for the purposes of public information. These original public information symbols can be scaled for reproduction and application purposes and used in conjunction with text to improve comprehension. The standard defines a public information symbol as a “graphical symbol intended to give information to the general public, the understanding of which is independent of specialist or occupational training.” ISO 7001:2023 is generally applicable to public information symbols in all locations and all sectors where the public has access. The standard details specifications for the size, text, arrow/s, color and contrast, negation (i.e., the bar or cross that is normally in red), and meanings and categorizations for these symbols.
The standard is not applicable to safety signs or those sectors subject to specific regulations (e.g. traffic signs on public roads).
Categorization and Meaning of ISO 7001:2023 Public Information Symbols
The public information symbols in ISO 7001:2023 are grouped in areas where they are expected to be used. Each symbol should normally be used to convey only one public information message and should normally be placed in one category only. Here are examples of the meaning of ISO 7001 symbols with their associated referenced number:
PF: Public Facilities
- PI PF 037: Library
- PI PF 044: Doctor or Healthcare Center
- PI PF 0070: Drinking Water
- PI PF 023: Baby Care or Nursery PI PF 023
TF: Transport Facilities
- PI TF 04: Electric Vehicle Charging Station or Point
- PI TF 015: Flight Departures
- PI TF 004: Ferries or Port or Ships or Boats
- PI TF 018: Customs or baggage check
TC: Tourism, Culture, and Heritage
- PI TC 014: Audio Tour
- PI TC 011: Bird Sanctuary
- PI TC 017: Beach
- PI TC 007: Zoo
SA: Sporting Activities
- PI SA 003: Swimming Pool – Indoor
- PI SA 002: Stadium
- PI SA 004: Sports Hall
- PI SA 001: Sporting Activities or General Sports
CF: Commercial Facilities
- PI CF 003: Accommodation or Hotel
- PI CF 005: ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) or Cash Service or Cash Dispenser
- PI CF 015: Hair Salon or Barber
- PI CF 010: Conference Facilities or Meeting Room
BP: Behavior of the Public (Excluding Public Safety Signs)
- PI BP 001: Quiet Please or Silence
- PI BP 019: Proceed Forward
- PI BP 010: Look to a Point
- PI BP 006: Dogs Should Be Carried
- PI AC 003: Accessible Elevator or Lift
- PI AC 008: Vision Impaired – Accessibility
- PI AC 001: Toilets – Accessible
- PI AC 010: Priority Access for Elderly People – Accessibility
ISO 7001:2023—Graphical Symbols – Registered Public Information Symbols is available on the ANSI Webstore.