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1337Delta764
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Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Tue Jul 31, 2007 7:29 am

Is it me, or is the trend for the illuminated lavatory signs toward symbol-based signs (rather than text-based)? Yes, I know that symbol based signs might better for people who speak a different language. On many older aircraft, the No Smoking and Fasten Seat Belt signs were also text-based. On most 727s and L-1011s I have flown on, all the signs were text-based. Most 737 Classics and older 757s/767s have symbol-based No Smoking and Fasten Seat Belt signs, but text-based lavatory signs. Last June I flew on a 737-300 on Southwest, and it did not have any lavatory sign, it only had a blue light that illuminates when the lavatory is occupied. Continental's 737-300s have text-based lavatory signs in both English and Spanish. All 737NGs I have flown on have symbol-based lavatory signs, as do Delta's 767-400s. On some of Delta's aircraft with the refurbished interior (such as some of the 757s and 767s), the text-based signs were replaced by symbol-based ones. The lavatory signs on AA's A300s are partially symbol-based, but when occupied, the word "OCCUPIED" appears in a red arrow pointing toward the side where the lavatories are occupied.

I think that symbol based No Smoking/Fasten Seat Belt signs are quite obvious, but I am not sure whether everyone understands symbol-based lavatory signs. Most of Boeing's newest aircraft feature signs that show a man and a woman with a toilet in between them, and when the lavatories are occupied, a large red X appears on the sign. I am not sure what Airbus's newest aircraft use.
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6yjjk
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Tue Jul 31, 2007 7:56 am

I was on an Easyjet A319 in May, and the lav signs were a picture of a toilet. They lit up green when vacant, red when occupied.

Until you work out that the sign changes colour, a red or green toilet tells you nothing except that there is a toilet. And if you're one of the 8-20% (depending on whose figures you believe) of males who are red-green colour-blind, changing the colour is utterly useless.

The crossed-out-when-occupied idea works far better, I think.
 
ikramerica
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Tue Jul 31, 2007 8:10 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Thread starter):
I am not sure what Airbus's newest aircraft use.

They use unclear iconography. See below...

Quoting 6YJJK (Reply 1):
They lit up green when vacant, red when occupied.

The US (HP) A319 I was on on Saturday had that too.

Quoting 6YJJK (Reply 1):
Until you work out that the sign changes colour, a red or green toilet tells you nothing except that there is a toilet

That's what I thought when I saw it. Unless you've been "watching the sign" in urgent need, you look up, see the toilet doesn't have an X through it, and get up!
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1337Delta764
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Tue Jul 31, 2007 10:00 am

Quoting 6YJJK (Reply 1):
I was on an Easyjet A319 in May, and the lav signs were a picture of a toilet. They lit up green when vacant, red when occupied.

Until you work out that the sign changes colour, a red or green toilet tells you nothing except that there is a toilet. And if you're one of the 8-20% (depending on whose figures you believe) of males who are red-green colour-blind, changing the colour is utterly useless.

The crossed-out-when-occupied idea works far better, I think.

Hmm, interesting. I also think the large red X works better as well, but it may still not be as obvious to some people as a text-based signs, unless the signs are in a foreign language.

In 1999, I flew on an ATA L-1011 that had the all of signs in two languages: in English and some other foreign language (some Oriental language I believe).

Some of Delta's refurbished aircraft (such as the 757s and 767-300s) now have the symbol based signs with the large red X when occupied. The sign is also fluorescent instead of incandescent.
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TZTriStar500
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Tue Jul 31, 2007 12:21 pm

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 3):
In 1999, I flew on an ATA L-1011 that had the all of signs in two languages: in English and some other foreign language (some Oriental language I believe).

You were probably on "Big Ed' N197AT since it was originally with ANA and had some Japanese interior signage. The TriStar500s came from Royal Jordanian and had Arabic signage. If fact, there is still some left on those aircraft.
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BOAC911
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Tue Jul 31, 2007 10:48 pm

The use of symbol-based signs has been increasing slowly but steadily in english-speaking countries..and hopefully will continue to do so. This is nothing new for western Europe, where in many places the use of symbols instead of text is actually EU mandated.

Taking a look at American car dashboards of the 60s, 70s or even 80s, and comparing to what they look now...you will find an astonishing increase in symbols.

Traffic signs in the US at some point will also have to be more symbol-based. This issue came up a few years ago upon the realization that many mexican truck drivers can not read english...and where would that leave NAFTA?
 
chase
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 1:12 am

That's a pretty shocking oversight regarding the red/green issue!

Quoting BOAC911 (Reply 5):
Traffic signs in the US at some point will also have to be more symbol-based. This issue came up a few years ago upon the realization that many mexican truck drivers can not read english...and where would that leave NAFTA?

I know it's very OT, but do you have any additional sources/info for this? I'd be curious to learn more about anything that may have been proposed. Also, I got a chuckle a few years ago driving through Quebec, where a sign forbidding the use of "jake brakes" said "freins Jacobs interdit"...kind of loses something for me when it doesn't rhyme.
 
6yjjk
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 7:29 am

Quoting Chase (Reply 6):
That's a pretty shocking oversight regarding the red/green issue!

Is it Airbus themselves who dream these things up, or some "interior design" company? And who vets these designs? I'm just a novice in this whole usability thing, but I spotted a problem as soon as someone locked the toilet door. As you say, it's shocking that someone who presumably gets paid far more than I do missed it. Makes me feel a whole lot better about some of the user interface atrocities I've committed in the past, though.  Smile

As for the red/green thing, I'm surprised at how many programmers I've worked with have no idea. On one occasion, I called someone on using only colour to distinguish between passed and failed, and they gave me a really sarcastic answer along the lines of, "it's a graphical interface, of course we use colours." I got them to select Start > Shut down... and wait - as the display faded to black and white, you could watch the point sinking in.

Quoting BOAC911 (Reply 5):
Traffic signs in the US at some point will also have to be more symbol-based. This issue came up a few years ago upon the realization that many mexican truck drivers can not read english...

European signs are essentially symbol-based, but there are plenty of exceptions. I read recently that in some parts of Cheshire, England, they're now signing diversions in Polish as well as English - apparently there are lots of Polish truckers, and some were getting lost and taking trucks places trucks were never meant to go!
 
afay1
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:00 am

It is also always amusing to be on an aircraft that doesn't have signage in the language of the operator or origin country. I remember being on an ex-Air France 737-200 ADV operated by Aerosvit (SVO-KBP) that had signs in only French and English....
 
Viscount724
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:23 am

Quoting Afay1 (Reply 8):
It is also always amusing to be on an aircraft that doesn't have signage in the language of the operator or origin country. I remember being on an ex-Air France 737-200 ADV operated by Aerosvit (SVO-KBP) that had signs in only French and English....

Signs on KL aircraft have always been in English only. That's one benefit of the trend to pictorial signs. Many aircraft now have virtually no signs using words.
 
ikramerica
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:28 am

Quoting BOAC911 (Reply 5):
The use of symbol-based signs has been increasing slowly but steadily in english-speaking countries..and hopefully will continue to do so. This is nothing new for western Europe, where in many places the use of symbols instead of text is actually EU mandated.

Symbology or iconography is great. But only if it is clear. Otherwise it's worse than words.

The universal symbol for "no" is an X or / or through something. Making it red isn't clear unless you know it was supposed to be green.

Quoting BOAC911 (Reply 5):
Traffic signs in the US at some point will also have to be more symbol-based. This issue came up a few years ago upon the realization that many mexican truck drivers can not read english...and where would that leave NAFTA?

If keeping signs in english stops Mexican truckers from driving in our country, then I'm all for it. Due to lack of regulation and requirement to accept Mexican law as "equal" NAFTA poses a real safety threat to the USA. USA truckers are bad enough, but nobody is going to enforce the rules on Mexican truckers just like nobody enforces the law on illegal drivers in the USA. No license, no registration, no greencard? No problem. But if you have a greencard? Well, now you are in trouble...
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nzrich
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:35 am

Using symbols is much better for people who do not speak the local language !! Not everyone understands the word occupied !!!! I used to operate the 733 (words) and the A320 (symbols) and the A320 was understood much more easily by people of all nationalities ..
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PExDCA
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:08 am

Quoting 6YJJK (Reply 1):
And if you're one of the 8-20% (depending on whose figures you believe) of males who are red-green colour-blind, changing the colour is utterly useless.

I wonder if they qualify for protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act?  sarcastic 
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dutchjet
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:46 am

Times change.

For many English speaking passengers, the first spanish word that they learned was ""OCCUPADO""....

 Smile  Smile
 
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zeke
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:53 am

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Thread starter):
Is it me, or is the trend for the illuminated lavatory signs toward symbol-based signs (rather than text-based)?

It is very difficult for a person to read the word "OCCUPIED" or "VACANT" on the door when it is locked or unlocked, the cabin indications are just indications....they are not lawful commands like no smoking or fasten seat-belts.
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ikramerica
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:01 pm

Quoting PExDCA (Reply 12):
I wonder if they qualify for protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act?

It isn't. Traffic lights pose the same problem and can prevent some people from getting a license. And there's no reason for this, as all red lights in traffic signals can be replaced with red X's instead with relative ease. they are already used in some places. Another option would be to strobe the red light. might be more effective overall for old people as well...  Wink
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PExDCA
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:50 pm

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 15):
Another option would be to strobe the red light. might be more effective overall for old people as well...

Your response got me thinking about how horrible it would be to have a strobing "lav occupied" light in an aircraft cabin... then I thought some more and remembered that Virgin America is doing mood lighting in their cabins, so maybe a strobing lav light, some lava lamps and a mirrored disco ball hanging from the ceiling might work for them. LOL  cheeky 
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EYKD
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 3:12 pm

Boeing is going to use vacant/occupied color-coding for 787 lavatories. But rather than having a green/red sign mounted under cabin ceiling the lavatory itself will be illuminated by light tubes running along its walls and door.
 
6yjjk
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 5:40 pm

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 15):
Traffic lights pose the same problem and can prevent some people from getting a license. And there's no reason for this, as all red lights in traffic signals can be replaced with red X's instead with relative ease. they are already used in some places.

A colour-blind pilot friend of mine is limited to day VFR (because he can't distinguish between red and green nav lights, among other things), but he can drive whenever he likes. Maybe it's different here in .uk. Certainly, our traffic lights are on a black board with a reflective white border, so you're not relying entirely on colour - light in the top of the box is red, light at the bottom of the box is green.

Now I think about it, some very very old traffic lights here have "STOP" written in black on the red light...

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 15):
Another option would be to strobe the red light.

Then you're getting into epileptic seizure territory... isn't this fun?  Smile

Quoting Nzrich (Reply 11):
Using symbols is much better for people who do not speak the local language

What happens if you're from a culture where you squat on the floor, and you have no idea what a toilet looks like?  Smile

Quoting EYKD (Reply 17):
Boeing is going to use vacant/occupied color-coding for 787 lavatories

 no  Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

Can't we have a standard man figure with a row of dots arcing down from his groin, changing to a standard man figure crossing his legs and grimacing? Big grin
 
HT
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 7:32 pm

Quoting 6YJJK (Reply 1):
And if you're one of the 8-20% (depending on whose figures you believe) of males who are red-green colour-blind, changing the colour is utterly useless.

I also am part of this group of people, although my inability to distinguish between red and green is rather limited and I have no problem with traffic signals. But LEDs changing their colour between red and green are a problem for me and I sometimes need to observe the color of a sign change before I am absolutely sure which one green and which one red is.

Quoting 6YJJK (Reply 1):
The crossed-out-when-occupied idea works far better, I think.

Copy that.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Thread starter):
Most of Boeing's newest aircraft feature signs that show a man and a woman with a toilet in between them,

{humor on} ... unless the sign gets changed to a man and a woman on one side of the toilet intending to join the mile-high club. Big grin {/humor off} Bad me !
-HT
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nzrich
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:19 pm

Quoting 6YJJK (Reply 18):
What happens if you're from a culture where you squat on the floor, and you have no idea what a toilet looks like?  

Well your likely to go in your seat then !!! And believe me i have been on a flight where that has happened was the worst smell ever it stunk especially on a long haul flight and it was not just one but a small group !!!
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6yjjk
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RE: Illuminated Symbol-based Lavatory Signs

Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:37 pm

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 10):

If keeping signs in english stops Mexican truckers from driving in our country, then I'm all for it.

Except it won't - surely it's better to accommodate them than have some guy who doesn't know what "SHARP BEND" means leaving the road and obliterating some good honest apple-pie Americans? Seriously, if you're going to be xenophobic (and you're entitled to that opinion), at least think it through.

Quoting Nzrich (Reply 20):
your likely to go in your seat then !!! And believe me i have been on a flight where that has happened was the worst smell ever it stunk especially on a long haul flight and it was not just one but a small group !!!

That's pretty foul. I did see a bunch of Afghan farmers in DOH (at least, the staff told me they were Afghan farmers) who had to be politely discouraged from throwing their chicken bones on the floor - I thought it was fascinating, that there could still be such huge differences. Had they used the floor for other purposes, I wouldn't have been quite so fascinated, I assure you!

Quoting HT (Reply 19):
{humor on} ... unless the sign gets changed to a man and a woman on one side of the toilet intending to join the mile-high club. {/humor off}

Bad you, indeed!  Smile I like your thinking.

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