Public signs to be user-friendly for older folk

SINGAPORE - Mr Peter Ng, a 67-year-old retiree, could not locate public toilets on a few occasions as he was having trouble reading the signs.

Said Mr Ng: "Many elderly Singaporeans wear glasses. It would help if the words on signs are bigger.

"Sometimes, those who design the signs try too hard to make them look unique, but they don't convey the message well. Signs should be functional."

But Mr Ng may no longer face this problem in future.

Design standards for signs in public places will be launched next year to make it easier for the elderly to identify and understand them, Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao reported on Monday.

These standards, which are being developed by the Silver Industry Standards Committee, will apply to signs of facilities in commercial buildings, malls, parks and other public places, including lift lobbies, toilets and escalators.

Mr Robert Chew, who chairs the 16-member committee, said having readable signs would make the urban environment "more user-friendly for older people".

The guidelines would also "raise the awareness among facilities managers and building developers of the need for proper signage standards," he said.

While the full details are yet to be confirmed, one standard that will be unveiled will call for larger font sizes for signs, said Mr Chew, who is also a board member of Dover Park Hospice and Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital.

Also, commuters have been found to prefer signs with colour coding - such as those used for MRT lines - as they enhance readability, he added.

The Silver Industry Standards Committee was formed in October 2011 to spearhead the development and use of standards that enhance the quality of life among the elderly.

Since last year, the committee has also been looking into developing standards targeting the elderly in areas such as home safety, eldercare centres and meal nutrition.

Mr Ng said he welcomes the proposed new standards for public signs.

He said: "It will be good to have such standards. I hope the symbols will be clearer. Sometimes, the symbols for lifts (with people in a box) look similar to those for toilets."

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