Signage at interchanges adapted to communication-impaired people, non-native and illiterate individuals

This tools involves the development of symbols suitable for mentally/cognitively-impaired users, non-natives and individuals who are unable to read at the interchange, with the objective of improving the autonomy of transport users.

The main aim of this tool is to improve the autonomy of mentally/cognitively-impaired users, non-natives and individuals who are unable to read at the interchange, through the development of suitable signage.

The signage, created using specific symbols, should be clear and unambiguous to enable disabled passengers or passengers with reduced mobility or in general everyone arriving at the interchange to identify easily and quickly where to go and how to get there. Signage should be positioned to avoid shadows and glare and should also contrast with the surroundings and, where appropriate, be embossed and incorporate pictograms.

A pictogram is a simplified representation of a figurative scene, a direct and clear orientation and information system for the public, which has its own meaning: a place where to go, an action to carry out, a forbidden action.

The signage and pictograms consist in standardised and easily recognisable signs, understandable even by mentally/cognitively-impaired users, people who cannot read and foreigners. The following categories are included: direction signs, identification signage, information signage, safety signage, prohibition signs.

The purpose of signage is to manage and organise information in the most effective way so that it can be broadcast and communicated. To be effective, signage has to be readable and get across information clearly and unmistakably. It is characterised by signs and/or images that are easy to understand and memorise.

The main benefits are: • positive impact on the independent living of people with disabilities; • easier travelling for people with temporarily reduced mobility; • easier monitoring of remaining gaps in accessibility; • cost-savings for special door-to-door transport services; • better image for public transport operators.

NODES strategic objectiveContribution
Enhance accessibility and integration ++
Enhance intermodality ++
Enhance liveability +
Increase safety and security conditions +
Increase economic viability and costs efficiency 0
Stimulate local economy 0
Increase environmental efficiency 0
Increase energy efficiency 0

Good practice

Existing in Mexico City – They use the experience of the successful 1968 Olympics logos: station name and logo have an immediate reference to a place, if an historical place, to a neighbourhood or to the surrounding identity, to famous people, etc. The name is one word in accordance with the logo (or pictogram) and with the same name for people who cannot read or for foreigners (for example, Candlemas station is “duck” for people who speak English). The city’s rich iconographic variety has helped and facilitated the creation of logos in which reference is made to the pre-Hispanic, colonial period, independent Mexico and the Revolution to the present.

Existing in London – “Transport for London” is in the process of refining a wide wayfinding system across the capital. The system sets out principles and guidelines for wayfinding for pedestrian and transport environments, aiming to deliver an integrated and consistent information system across the city. It is based on mental mapping principles, progressive disclosure of information, naming consistency, product design and graphic language. London is piloting the system in three London Boroughs and has tested it at one transport interchange (Bond Street).

Existing in Rome – In 2008, Atac issued the first version of the signage handbook, prompted by the need to achieve a codified standardisation of the service signage. The intention was to ensure strong visual consistency, so a language was created with a specifically designed font and system of icons using Atac’s institutional colours. There is a single language for the entire network. The system is based on simplicity, conciseness and the functionality of the message structure, as well as on the number of insertions and placements in the architectural environment.

Existing in Lyon – They have developed a policy to improve access for persons with reduced mobility (PRM), in line with French law, which obliges all PTOs to make their networks accessible by 2015. The aim is to offer PRM good travelling conditions, namely allowing them to move about inside the network and to access information.

In test in Toulouse – Pictograms enabling users to identify metro stations using an eye-catching element of the immediate outside environment of the station have been trialled in Toulouse by Tisséo. The city of Toulouse created a system that allows the integration for travellers with reduced mobility to comply with accessibility law. In 2009, Tisséo adopted the Schéma Directeur d’Accessibilité, which involves various activities to be implemented by 2015 aimed at achieving suitable mobility that is easy and convenient for everyone.

Existing in Frankfurt Rhein/Main and Berlin-Brandenburg, Germany – The BAIM system provides tailored traveller information online for different target groups. The user can enter his requirements to ensure barrier-free travelling for a planned trip. The journey planner provides information on connections that are barrier-free and also gives additional details about the accessibility of interchanges, stops and vehicles. Detailed interchange maps with visualisation of critical information give the user an easier overview. The information is provided in different formats, according to user needs (e.g. a description in text format, which can be read via screen reader by blind people).

Application at NODES sites: 

This tool has been evaluated by the NODES site in Toulouse.

In Toulouse, Tisséo-SMTC experimented with station/interchange recognition pictograms representing a significant element of the immediate outside environment of one station/interchange. The use of simple and understandable pictograms for all is considered extremely useful and is to be recommended to all networks to provide information relating to the transport network to any network user.

Potential interchange performance improvement

The use of a coded signage system makes it possible to organise, standardise and harmonise communication; to achieve the maximum perceptual coherence and, where appropriate, to avoid the proliferation of foreign elements and the overlapping of spontaneous alternative languages.

Furthermore, the integration between environment and signage, has enhanced the usability of information. The signage does not burden the environment, but makes it accessible, reliable and “familiar”.

The use of an effective and efficient service signage has improved the efficiency and quality of the spaces in terms of clarity, quantity, type and location.

Accessible public transport can also reduce social isolation and encourage healthy activities, which in turn produce cost-savings for health and social services.


–          Cost indication for use of tool

Costs depend on complexity and data requirements. The provision of static information can be considered as a low-cost measure.

In a typical interchange node (e.g. Flaminio station) the permanent signage, including pictograms suitable for persons with disabilities, of all types (direction, information, safety, etc.) and has an estimated cost of € 40,000 for a space of 3,200 m2.

–          Other resources needed for use of the tool


–          Indication of higher costs that may be generated by use of the tool


–          Distribution of costs between stakeholders





ATAC – METRO “Manuale della segnaletica” (signage handbook) version 1.1 March 2008.

HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT – “Accessing Public Transport” POSTnote – March 2013.

NSW – Disability Action Plan 2012/2017 –

CEREMA – Handicaps et Usages – October 2013 –


DESIGNER P. MIJKSENAAR – projects: Dutch Railways, Metro Rotterdam, Tram tunnel, The Hague.

METRO AMSTERDAM (GVB) – R-net, high quality public transport –